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Publication - Dr Alan Baird

    The role of texture, cracks, and fractures in highly anisotropic shales


    Baird, A, Kendall, JM, Fisher, QJ & Budge, J, 2018, ‘The role of texture, cracks, and fractures in highly anisotropic shales’. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, vol 122., pp. 10341?10351


    Organic shales generally have low permeability unless fractures are present. However, how gas, oil, and water flows into these fractures remains enigmatic. The alignment of clay minerals and the alignment of fractures and cracks are effective means to produce seismic anisotropy. Thus, the detection and characterization of this anisotropy can be used to infer details about lithology, rock fabric, and fracture and crack properties within the subsurface. We present a study characterizing anisotropy using S wave splitting from microseismic sources in a highly anisotropic shale. We observe very strong anisotropy (up to 30%) with predominantly VTI (vertical transverse isotropy) symmetry, but with evidence of an HTI (horizontal transverse isotropy) overprint due to a NE striking vertical fracture set parallel to the maximum horizontal compressive stress. We observe clear evidence of a shear wave triplication due to anisotropy, which to our knowledge is one of only a very few observations of such triplications in field-scale data. We use modal proportions of minerals derived from X-ray fluorescence data combined with realistic textures to estimate the contribution of intrinsic anisotropy as well as possible contributions of horizontally aligned cracks. We find that aligned clays can explain much of the observed anisotropy and that any cracks contributing to the vertical transverse isotropy (VTI) must have a low ratio of normal to tangential compliance (ZN/ZT), typical of isolated cracks with low hydraulic connectivity. Subhorizontal cracks have also been observed in the reservoir, and we propose that their reactivation during hydraulic fracturing may be an important mechanism to facilitate gas flow.

    Full details in the University publications repository