Effect of Fracture Growth Velocity Exponent on Fluid Flow through Geomechanically-grown 3D Fracture Networks

Thomas, Robin N. (Imperial College) | Paluszny, Adriana (Imperial College) | Zimmerman, Robert W. (Imperial College)

OnePetro 

ABSTRACT: Geomechanical discrete fracture networks (DFNs) are grown using a 3D finite element-based fracture mechanics simulator. The influence of the fracture growth rate exponent (β) on the resulting fracture geometry and hydraulic properties of networks is investigated. Previous work has found that β has a complex relationship with the final geometry of geomechanically-grown 2D DFNs. Realistic features evolve during the growth of DFNs as a result of the orientation of the principal stress axis and fracture interaction. High values of β cause interaction effects to be more pronounced, and irregular shaped fractures to be more common. Low values of β are found to produce networks with a balance between selective growth on preferentially oriented and interacting fractures, and significant increases in fracture surface area with computation time. The permeability of DFNs is significantly influenced by anisotropy, which develops in the axes perpendicular to the principal stress direction. For fracture networks with different β values, permeabilities along the principal axes are similar for the same total fracture void space.