Fluid injection into rocks is increasingly used for energy extraction and for fluid wastes disposal, and can trigger/induce small- to medium-scale seismicity. Fluctuations in pore fluid pressure may also be associated with natural seismicity. The energy release in anthropogenically induced seismicity is sensitive to amount and pressure of fluid injected, through the way that seismic moment release is related to slipped area, and is strongly affected by the hydraulic conductance of the faulted rock mass. Bearing in mind the scaling issues that apply, fluid injection-driven fault motion can be studied on laboratory-sized samples. Here, we investigate both stable and unstable induced fault slip on pre-cut planar surfaces in Darley Dale and Pennant sandstones, with or without granular gouge. They display contrasting permeabilities, differing by a factor of 10<sup>5</sup>, but mineralogies are broadly comparable. In permeable Darley Dale sandstone, fluid can access the fault plane through the rock matrix and the effective stress law is followed closely. Pore pressure change shifts the whole Mohr circle laterally. In tight Pennant sandstone, fluid only injects into the fault plane itself; stress state in the rock matrix is unaffected. Sudden access by overpressured fluid to the fault plane via hydrofracture causes seismogenic fault slips.
|Date made available
|21 Jul 2017