Predicting hydraulic tensile fracture spacing in strata-bound systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A model is presented which predicts the spacing of tensile-fractures due to fluid pressure increase in a multilayered sedimentary sequence comprising different typical sedimentary deposits such as mudstones, siltstones and sandstones. During normal burial and tectonic conditions, strata will undergo both extensional forces and an increase in fluid pressures. This model addresses the effects of the diffuse fluid pressure increase, and is useful for engineered applications such as the injection of fluid into a reservoir that may cause an increase of fluid pressure beneath a caprock, and for sedimentary sequences during normal digenetic processes of burial and fault activation. Analytical and numerical elastic stress strain solutions are compared to provide a robust normalised standard relationship for predicting the spacing of fractures. Key parameters are the local minimum horizontal stress, variability of the tensile strengths of the layers of a sedimentary sequence and the thickness of the beds. Permeability and storage are also shown to affect the fracture spacing. The model predicts many of the field observations made regarding strata-bound fracture systems, and should also prove useful in consideration of the impact of raised reservoir fluid pressures on caprock integrity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
Early online date15 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Hydraulic fracturing, fracture spacing, CO2 analogue, caprock, fluid injection.


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