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Evidence for tectonic, lithologic, and thermal controls on fracture system geometries in an andesitic high-temperature geothermal field

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journal contribution
posted on 10.02.2021, 22:13 by C Massiot, A Nicol, DD McNamara, John Townend
©2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Analysis of fracture orientation, spacing, and thickness from acoustic borehole televiewer (BHTV) logs and cores in the andesite-hosted Rotokawa geothermal reservoir (New Zealand) highlights potential controls on the geometry of the fracture system. Cluster analysis of fracture orientations indicates four fracture sets. Probability distributions of fracture spacing and thickness measured on BHTV logs are estimated for each fracture set, using maximum likelihood estimations applied to truncated size distributions to account for sampling bias. Fracture spacing is dominantly lognormal, though two subordinate fracture sets have a power law spacing. This difference in spacing distributions may reflect the influence of the andesitic sequence stratification (lognormal) and tectonic faults (power law). Fracture thicknesses of 9–30 mm observed in BHTV logs, and 1–3 mm in cores, are interpreted to follow a power law. Fractures in thin sections (∼5 μm thick) do not fit this power law distribution, which, together with their orientation, reflect a change of controls on fracture thickness from uniform (such as thermal) controls at thin section scale to anisotropic (tectonic) at core and BHTV scales of observation. However, the ∼5% volumetric percentage of fractures within the rock at all three scales suggests a self-similar behavior in 3-D. Power law thickness distributions potentially associated with power law fluid flow rates, and increased connectivity where fracture sets intersect, may cause the large permeability variations that occur at hundred meter scales in the reservoir. The described fracture geometries can be incorporated into fracture and flow models to explore the roles of fracture connectivity, stress, and mineral precipitation/dissolution on permeability in such andesite-hosted geothermal systems.


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Massiot, C., Nicol, A., McNamara, D. D. & Townend, J. (2017). Evidence for tectonic, lithologic, and thermal controls on fracture system geometries in an andesitic high-temperature geothermal field. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 122(8), 6853-6874. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JB014121

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth





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American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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