Hydraulic fracturing stress determinations in the ANDRILL South McMurdo Sound Drill Hole

Category Tectonic & Seismotectonic
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Schmitt, Douglas۱; Wilson, Terry۲; Jarrard, Richard۳; Paulsen, Timothy۴; Pierdominici, Simona۵; Grelle, Thomas۶; Handwerger, David۷; Wonik, Thomas۶; the SMS Science Team, ANDRILL۸
Holding Date 08 September 2008

In general, knowledge of the state of stress within the Antarctic lithosphere remains largely unconstrained due in part to Antarctica’s inaccessibility and because of the paucity of seismic focal mechanism solutions. As such, an important component of the ANDRILL project was to acquire new information on the stress directions and magnitudes within the upper crust. Extensive fracture mapping of the core and oriented ultrasonic televiewer logging, as presented in a related contribution, provided strong constraints on both stress orientations and the faulting regime. The first hydraulic fracturing stress determinations in Antarctica were also carried out to provide complimentary quantitative stress magnitudes. These measurements were accomplished using a wireline transported hydraulic fracturing system consisting, essentially, of two synthetic polymer packers that were inflated to isolate the 1-m long pressurization interval. The tests were conducted at the end of the drilling and logging in a ~130-m section specially drilled below 1000 mbsf for hydraulic fractures. This zone was drilled primarily through competent, dense, and low permeability diamicts. The core fracture and televiewer logging information was used to site twenty separate measurements. Classic hydraulic fracturing pressurization records with unambiguous breakdown and fracture closure pressures were obtained in about half of the measurements. The remaining tests provided fracture propagation and closure pressures that are consistent with the classic breakdown curves, but they did not include a clear breakdown pressure and are indicative of the reopening of either natural or drilling induced fractures in the wellbore wall. Comparison of the televiewer images obtained before and after the hydraulic fracturing tests highlighted the existence of at least one artificial hydraulic fracture; more could not be obtained because blockage of the wellbore did not allo the lowest sections to be logged a second time. The preliminary analysis of the results are in generally good agreement with the stress directions indicated by the core fracture logging and the stress regime suggested by the character of the drilling induced core fractures. Continued analysis will incorporate the tensile strength of the rock to better constrain the magnitudes of the greatest compressive horizontal stress.