Improving Subsurface Stress Characterization for Carbon Dioxide Storage Projects
25 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2021
Date Written: March 31, 2021
Researchers at New Mexico Tech, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), and other collaborators are developing a methodology to improve characterization of stress in the subsurface by means of a model-based inversion of reservoir engineering data, time lapse seismic measurements, and microseismicity. Historically, various geophysical techniques have been used in efforts to understand the state of stress in the subsurface through direct and indirect imaging of stress sensitive features (faults and fractures) and observations of transient stress related observations (time variant elastic moduli and microseismicity). Standard direct and indirect techniques for seismic fault and fracture imaging suffer from detectability limits due to reliance on high data quality and multiplicity. Variations in effective elastic properties from inversion of high quality seismic (Vertical Seismic Profile (VSP)) data may be used to infer stress near the wellbore through integration with independent experimental characterization of the stress-velocity relationship. Given a sufficiently robust observation network, microseismic emissions may be inverted to characterize focal mechanisms which, together with supporting assumptions and constraints, inform estimates of in-situ stress. While each of these techniques contributes in part to the characterization of stress within limited spatial and temporal domains, no one method provides an unambiguous stress measurement or a predictive capability over a site scale spatial extent. Challenges associated with solution non-uniqueness, measurement ambiguity, and irregular sampling may be greatly minimized through combination of one or more of independent measurements within a common framework in which realistic geological, hydrodynamic, geomechanical, and seismological constituent process models may act as constraints.
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