Flow rate dictates permeability enhancement during fluid pressure oscillations in laboratory experiments

Thibault Candela, Emily E. Brodsky, Chris Marone, Derek Elsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Seismic waves have been observed to increase the permeability in fractured aquifers. A detailed, predictive understanding of the process has been hampered by a lack of constraint on the primary physical controls. What aspect of the oscillatory forcing is most important in determining the magnitude of the permeability enhancement? Here we present laboratory results showing that flow rate is the primary control on permeability increases in the laboratory. We fractured Berea sandstone samples under triaxial stresses of tens of megapascals and applied dynamic fluid stresses via pore pressure oscillations. In each experiment, we varied either the amplitude or the frequency of the pressure changes. Amplitude and frequency each separately correlated with the resultant permeability increase. More importantly, the permeability changes correlate with the flow rate in each configuration, regardless of whether flow rate variations were driven by varying amplitude or frequency. We also track the permeability evolution during a single set of oscillations by measuring the phase lags (time delays) of successive oscillations. Interpreting the responses with a poroelastic model shows that 80% of the permeability enhancement is reached during the first oscillation and the final permeability enhancement scales exponentially with the imposed change in flow rate integrated over the rock volume. The establishment of flow rate as the primary control on permeability enhancement from seismic waves opens the door to quantitative studies of earthquake-hydrogeological coupling. The result also suggests that reservoir permeability could be engineered by imposing dynamic stresses and changes in flow rate. Key Points Dynamic fluid-stresses induce permeability enhancements 80% of the permeability enhancement is reached during the first oscillation The Flow rate is the key parameter controlling the permeability enhancement

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2037-2055
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume120
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

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pressure oscillations
fluid pressure
permeability
flow velocity
oscillation
Flow rate
Fluids
augmentation
Experiments
Seismic waves
Fluid dynamics
oscillations
seismic waves
fluid dynamics
Pore pressure
seismic wave
rate
laboratory experiment
Sandstone
Aquifers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

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title = "Flow rate dictates permeability enhancement during fluid pressure oscillations in laboratory experiments",
abstract = "Seismic waves have been observed to increase the permeability in fractured aquifers. A detailed, predictive understanding of the process has been hampered by a lack of constraint on the primary physical controls. What aspect of the oscillatory forcing is most important in determining the magnitude of the permeability enhancement? Here we present laboratory results showing that flow rate is the primary control on permeability increases in the laboratory. We fractured Berea sandstone samples under triaxial stresses of tens of megapascals and applied dynamic fluid stresses via pore pressure oscillations. In each experiment, we varied either the amplitude or the frequency of the pressure changes. Amplitude and frequency each separately correlated with the resultant permeability increase. More importantly, the permeability changes correlate with the flow rate in each configuration, regardless of whether flow rate variations were driven by varying amplitude or frequency. We also track the permeability evolution during a single set of oscillations by measuring the phase lags (time delays) of successive oscillations. Interpreting the responses with a poroelastic model shows that 80{\%} of the permeability enhancement is reached during the first oscillation and the final permeability enhancement scales exponentially with the imposed change in flow rate integrated over the rock volume. The establishment of flow rate as the primary control on permeability enhancement from seismic waves opens the door to quantitative studies of earthquake-hydrogeological coupling. The result also suggests that reservoir permeability could be engineered by imposing dynamic stresses and changes in flow rate. Key Points Dynamic fluid-stresses induce permeability enhancements 80{\%} of the permeability enhancement is reached during the first oscillation The Flow rate is the key parameter controlling the permeability enhancement",
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Flow rate dictates permeability enhancement during fluid pressure oscillations in laboratory experiments. / Candela, Thibault; Brodsky, Emily E.; Marone, Chris; Elsworth, Derek.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, Vol. 120, No. 4, 01.04.2015, p. 2037-2055.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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