Inferring rock fracture evolution during reservoir stimulation from seismic anisotropy

Andreas Wuestefeld*, James P. Verdon, J. Michael Kendall, James Rutledge, Huw Clarke, James Wookey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


We have analyzed seismic anisotropy using shear-wave-splitting measurements made on microseismic events recorded during a hydraulic fracture experiment in a tight gas reservoir in Carthage, east Texas. Microseismic events were recorded on two downhole arrays of three-component sensors, the geometry of which provided good ray coverage for anisotropy analysis. A total of 16,633 seismograms from 888 located events yielded 1545 well-constrained shear-wave-splitting measurements. Manual analysis of splitting from a subset of this data set reveals temporal changes in splitting during fracturing. Inversion using the full data set allows the identification of fracture strike and density, which is observed to vary during fracturing. The recovered fracture strike in the rock mass is parallel to directions of regional borehole breakout, but oblique to the hydraulic fracture corridor as mapped by the microseismic event. We relate this to en-echelon fracturing of preexisting cracks. The magnitude of shear-wave splitting shows a clear temporal increase during each pumping stage, indicating the generation of cracks and fissures in a halo around the fracture corridor, which thus increase the overall permeability of the rock mass. Our results show that shear-wave-splitting analysis can provide a useful tool for monitoring spatial and temporal variations in fracture networks generated by hydraulic stimulation. © 2011 Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158 - 169
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011

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