The influence of CO2-transformed iron oxide grain coatings on the frictional stability and transport properties of simulated faults in sandstones

Chaoyi Wang, Derek Elsworth

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1 Scopus citations


Carbon sequestration involves long-term containment of CO2 in ideally sealed reservoirs. However, CO2 migration can weaken rocks and faults by geochemical alteration, elevate risks of seismic hazards, and loss of inventory. Recent studies show that CO2 bleaching can alter the iron oxide grain coating of sand-sized quartz in sandstones, which may impose a significant influence on frictional stability and permeability evolution of faults in sandstones. This study investigates the influence of iron oxide grain coatings via coupled shear-flow experiments on uncoated, hematite-coated, and CO2-transformed goethite-coated synthetic sand gouge. Shear strength, frictional stability, healing/relaxation, and shear-parallel permeability are measured in velocity-stepping and slide-hold-slide loading modes. Hematite-coated sand exhibits the highest shear strength, followed by goethite-coated and uncoated sand. All samples, both coated and uncoated, show similar residual shear strength. Frictional stability measurements suggest hematite-coated sand may undergo potential seismic slip (negative (a − b) values); goethite-coated sand is aseismic (positive (a − b) values) but features higher frictional healing and relaxation. Shear-parallel permeability enhances during initial shear in all samples, followed by a sharp decline after the peak strength, except for goethite-coated sand, for which permeability reduction is moderate. SEM characterizations pre- and post-shear suggest that the competitive liberation, transport, and clogging of coating particles and shear-produced wear products can be an important mechanism in permeability evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number65
JournalGeomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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