Cracks, fractures and flow in shales - Insights from microseismicity

J. M. Kendall*, A. F. Baird, P. J. Usher, Q. J. Fisher, J. Budge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


Hydraulic fracture stimulation in shales has revolutionised the North American energy market. However, how oil and gas flows from the impermeable matrix to fractures is still poorly understood. Shales are characterised by horizontally aligned phyllosilicate minerals, which leads to a well-defined directional variation in seismic velocities, or seismic anisotropy. Petrofabric analysis can be used to constrain the intrinsic anisotropy due to this crystal preferred alignment, but the observed seismic anisotropy is often much larger, suggesting more extrinsic mechanisms such as cracks and fractures are at play. Microearthquakes induced by fracture stimulation provide excellent probes of the in-situ anisotropy through observations of shear wave birefringence or 'splitting'. The analysis of microseismic data in a number of shale gas settings suggest that the interplay between induced and pre-existing vertical fractures plays a key role in developing fracture networks. However, recent analysis suggests that sub-horizontal and compliant microcracks may play an equally significant role in promoting flow in highly anisotropic shales.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication5th EAGE Shale Workshop: Quantifying Risks and Potential
PublisherEuropean Association of Geoscientists and Engineers, EAGE
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9781510822887
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event5th EAGE Shale Workshop: Quantifying Risks and Potential - Catania, Italy
Duration: 2 May 20164 May 2016


Conference5th EAGE Shale Workshop: Quantifying Risks and Potential


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