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Self-potential observations during hydraulic fracturing

  • Author(s): Moore, J R
  • Glaser, Steven D
  • et al.
Abstract

[1] The self-potential (SP) response during hydraulic fracturing of intact Sierra granite was investigated in the laboratory. Excellent correlation of pressure drop and SP suggests that the SP response is created primarily by electrokinetic coupling. For low pressures, the variation of SP with pressure drop is linear, indicating a constant coupling coefficient (Cc) of - 200 mV/MPa. However, for pressure drops > 2 MPa, the magnitude of the Cc increases by 80% in an exponential trend. This increasing Cc is related to increasing permeability at high pore pressures caused by dilatancy of microcracks and is explained by a decrease in the hydraulic tortuosity. Resistivity measurements reveal a decrease of 2% prior to hydraulic fracturing and a decrease of similar to 35% after fracturing. An asymmetric spatial SP response created by injectate diffusion into dilatant zones is observed prior to hydraulic fracturing, and in most cases this SP variation revealed the impending crack geometry seconds before failure. At rupture, injectate rushes into the new fracture area where the zeta potential is different than in the rock porosity, and an anomalous SP spike is observed. After fracturing, the spatial SP distribution reveals the direction of fracture propagation. Finally, during tensile cracking in a point load device with no water flow, a SP spike is observed that is caused by contact electrification. However, the time constant of this event is much less than that for transients observed during hydraulic fracturing, suggesting that SP created solely from material fracture does not contribute to the SP response during hydraulic fracturing.

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