Interactions of Hydraulic Fractures With Grain Boundary Discontinuities in the Near Wellbore Region

Keita Yoshioka, Masafumi Katou, Kohei Tamura, Yutaro Arima, Yoshiharu Ito, Youqing Chen, Tsuyoshi Ishida

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Hydraulic fractures often turn or branch, interacting with preexisting discontinuities in the rock mass (e.g., natural fractures or defects). The criteria for fracture penetration or deflection are typically based on the in situ stress, and the angle and strength of discontinuities. However, in hydraulic fracture experiments on carbonate rocks (Naoi et al., 2020,, small scale analyses show that the fractures deflected more frequently at discontinuities (grain boundaries) as they propagated farther from the wellbore, a finding not explained by the conventional criteria. Here, we demonstrate that the energy dissipation of a deflecting fracture increases with the distance from the wellbore, such that a propagating hydraulic fracture more easily deflects at a discontinuity from an energetic standpoint. This tendency was confirmed by hydraulic fracture simulations based on a successive energy minimization approach. Our findings, which show that wellbores appreciably affect the behavior of hydraulic fractures, highlight the importance of energetic stability analysis for determining fracture paths.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JB024509
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of geophysical research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2023

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