We discuss a method of detecting localised fracturing that potentially requires only one
channel. The method is based on the notion that the fracture propagation involves generation
of acoustic events from its contour. It is proposed that the number of events (microcracks) generated at each step of fracture propagation could be proportional to the fracture size to a certain power called the localisation exponent. This dependence of the number of generated events on the fracture size (the event coherence) leads to a shift to higher frequency (the “blue shift”) in the combined spectrum of the events as compared to the spectrum of randomly generated events. This concept was applied to the results of a laboratory test in which hydraulic fracture was driven by injecting glycerine into a 200x200x120mm block of polycrystalline gabbro. We show that there is indeed a blue shift in the spectrum of the arrival times at any one sensor that seems to correspond with the growth of a localized hydraulic fracture. The localisation exponent is able to distinguish between the cases of the fracture contour length roughly proportional to, and more slowly than proportional to, the nominal fracture radius.
When creating arrays of hydraulic fractures in close proximity, stress field changes induced
by previously placed hydraulic fractures can lead to deflection in subsequent fracture paths and coalescence between fractures. Any fracture coalescence can compromise the effectiveness of the treatment array and the fracture geometry will not be appropriately accounted for in reservoir or caving models. Here we present the results of an experimental study consisting of arrays of 4 closely spaced hydraulic fractures grown sequentially in 350x350x350 mm blocks of a South Australian Gabbro under different initial stress states and for notched and un-notched wellbores. In particular we focus on insights gained from 3-dimesional serial sectioning and digital reconstruction of the hydraulic fracture patterns that were formed. The results show that the curving hydraulic fractures typically do not exhibit a high degree of radial symmetry in their paths even though the fractures grew by radiating outward from a centrally located wellbore. The results also confirm model predictions that a subsequent fracture will curve towards a previous fracture when the minimum stress is zero and that this curving is suppressed when the minimum stress is sufficiently large. Finally, fracture initiation is shown to be critical to the symmetry of the
fracture pattern and preponderance of branching and therefore effective notches that lead to initiation in the eventual plane of favored propagation have a profound impact on the hydraulic fracture geometry.
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