Seismicity-permeability coupling in the behavior of gas shales, CO2 storage and deep geothermal energy

Y. Fang, C. Wang, D. Elsworth, T. Ishibashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Contemporary methods of energy conversions that reduce carbon intensity include sequestering CO2, fuel switching to lower-carbon sources, such as from gas shales, and recovering deep geothermal energy via EGS. In all of these endeavors, either maintaining the low permeability and integrity of caprocks or in controlling the growth of permeability in initially very-low-permeability shales and geothermal reservoirs represent key desires. At short-timescales of relevance, permeability is driven principally by deformations—in turn resulting from changes in total stresses, fluid pressure or thermal and chemical effects. These deformations may be intrinsically stable or unstable, result in aseismic or seismic deformation, with resulting changes in permeability conditioned by the deformational mode. We report experiments and models to represent the respective roles of mineralogy, texture, scale and overpressures on the evolution of friction, stability and permeability in fractured rocks. Models show a transition from high to low residual coefficient of friction for homogenous mixtures of strong and weak aggregates when the proportion of the weak material reaches 25% with a significant transition occurring at 50%. This transition may occur at much lower proportions where the material is structured, such as in a thin layer. For pre-existing fractures, we observe that fracture permeability declines during shearing while the increased sliding velocity reduces the rate of decline. The physics of these observed behaviors are explored via parametric studies and surface measurement of fractures, showing that both permeability and frictional strength are correlated to the fracture asperity evolution that is controlled in-turn by the sliding velocity and fracture material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalGeomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Energy(all)
  • Economic Geology


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