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In Situ Stress Measurement

The in situ state of stress in the earth’s crust has been widely recognized as a basic parameter necessary in the engineering design of underground openings. Quantitative evaluation of horizontal in situ stresses in rock at a specific site cannot be made since gravitational forces are practically the only one clearly understood. Therefore, these horizontal stresses require direct measurements in the field. Presently the most common method of measuring in situ stress from near-surface to considerable depths is hydraulic fracturing (or hydrofrac).

Typically hydraulic fracturing is conducted in vertical boreholes. A short segment of the hole is sealed off using an straddle packer. This is followed by the pressurization of the fracture-free segment of the hole by pumping in water. The pressure is raised until the rock surrounding the hole fails in tension at a critical pressure. Following breakdown, the shut-in pressure, the lowest test-interval pressure at which the hydrofrac closes completely under the action of the stress acting normal to the hydrofrac. In a vertical test hole the hydrofrac is expected to be vertical and perpendicular to the minimum horizontal stress. An impression impression packer or borehole logging devices can be used to obtain the orientation of the hydrofrac which yields the direction of the maximum horizontal stress.

 

Applications

Hydrofrac is commonly conduted in large scale underground construction and earthquake research projects:

  • Nuclear waste disposal repository design
  • Oil-Gas storage design
  • Pumped energy storage design T
  • ransportation tunnel design
  • Natural & manmade earthquake studies
  • Waste injection for environmental restoration
  • Enhancement of oil/groundwater recovery

The magnitudes and directions of in situ stresses around the investigation site provide the crucial design parameters: initial stress conditions around the prospective site; orientation of the drift; depth of the opening; stability analysis of the opening.

Test Set-Up

The major downhole instruments involved in hydraulic fracturing in situ stress measurement method are: Straddle packer system for fracture initiation and extension, Impression- orienting system for fracture delineation. A tripod and a wireline hoist replace the conventional drill rig and drill pipes. Using wireline fast and continuous tool tripping is possible without tool retrieval to the surface after each test. A laptop PC-based Analog-to-Digital converter records and stores pressure-flowrate-time data reliably. The wireline system allows the user to measure the in situ state of stress near the future underground opening more affordably by improving its cost-effectiveness through the use of a wireline in place of the conventional drill-pipe method.

Analysis

A PC-based interactive data acquisition and analysis software package minimizes uncertainties in recording and analyzing hydrofrac data. The analysis package is based on the statistical routines (Lee and Haimson, 1988, 1991) developed for identifying key test parameters: shut-in pressure, fracture reopening pressure, dip and dip direction of hydrofracture.

 

 

Selected References


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  • Abou-Sayed, A. S., C. E. Brechtel and R. J. Clifton, In Situ Stress Determination by Hydrofracturing: A Fracture Mechanics Approach, J. Geophys. Res., 83, 2851-2862 (1978).
  • Ahagen, H., Instruments for Hydrogeological and Geochemical Measurements in Deep Boreholes, International Symposium on Field Measurements in Geomechanics, Zurich, 1289-1292, (1983).
  • Baumgartner, J. and F. Rummel, Experience with Hydraulic Fracturing as a Stress Measuring Technique in Jointed Rock Mass, in Proc. 2nd International Workshop on Hydraulic Fracturing Stress Measurements, University of Wisconsin-Madison, pp. 168-204, (1988).
  • Baumgartner, J., F. Rummel, B. C. Haimson, and M. Y. Lee, In Situ Stress Measurements and Natural Fracture Logging in Drill Hole CY-4, the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus, In Cyprus Crustal Study Project, Initial Report, Hole CY-4, Geological Survey of Canada, paper 88-9, pp. 315-330 (1989).
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  • Haimson, B. C., A Simple Method for Estimating In Situ Stresses at Great Depths, In Field Testing and Instrumentation of Rock, ASTM STP 554, American Society for Testing and Materials, pp. 156-182 (1974).
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  • Haimson, B. C., The Hydrofracturing Stress Measuring Method and Recent Results, Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. & Geomech. Abstr., 15, 167-178 (1978b).
  • Haimson, B. C., Field Measurements and Laboratory Tests for the Design of Energy Storage Caverns, in Proc. 4th ISRM Congress, 2, Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 195-201 (1979).
  • Haimson, B. C., Near Surface and Deep Hydrofracturing Stress Measurements in the Waterloo Quartzite, Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. & Geomech. Abstr., 17, 81-88 (1980).
  • Haimson, B. C., Stress Measurements at Hanford, Washington for the Design of a Nuclear Waste Repository Facility, in Proc. 6th Congress of the International Society for Rock Mechanics, Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 119-123 (1987).
  • Haimson, B. C., Current Hydraulic Fracturing Interpretation, How Correctly Does It Estimate the Maximum Horizontal Crustal Stress?. EOS, Trans. Am. Geophys. U., 69, 1454 (1988).
  • Haimson, B. C. and T. W. Doe, State of Stress, Permeability, and Fractures in the Precambrian Granite of Northern Illinois, J. Geophys. Res., 88, 7355-7371 (1983).
  • Haimson, B. C. and J. N. Edl, Hydraulic Fracturing of Deep Wells, SPE 4061, presented at the 47th annual fall meeting, AIME, Soc. of Petr. Engr. (1972).
  • Haimson, B. C. and C. Fairhurst, Initiation and Extension of Hydraulic Fracture in Rocks, Soc. Petr. Engrs. J., Sept., 310-318 (1967).
  • Haimson, B. C. and X. Huang, Hydraulic Fracturing Breakdown Pressure and In Situ Stress at Great Depth. in Rock at Great Depth (Edited by Maury and Fourmaintraux), Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 939-946 (1989).
  • Haimson, B. C. and C. F. Lee, Hydrofracturing Stress Determinations at Darlington, Ontario. in Proc. 13th Canadian Rock Mech. Symp., Canadian Inst. Min. Met, Toronto, Ontario, pp. 42-50 (1980).
  • Haimson, B. C. and M. Y. Lee, Development of a Wireline Hydrofra-cturing Technique and Its Use at a Site of Induced Seismicity, in Proc. 25th U.S Rock Mech. Symp., Soc. Mining Engrs, New York, NY, pp. 194-203 (1984).
  • Haimson, B. C. and M. Y. Lee, Stress Measurements at the Jordanelle Dam Site, Central Utah, Using Wireline Hydrofracturing, final report to U.S. Geological Survey, 14-08-0001-21890 (1985).
  • Haimson, B. C. and M. Y. Lee, The State of Stress in a Jointed Rhyolite, in Proc. 28th U.S. Rock Mech. Symp., Rotterdam, Balkema, pp. 231-240 (1987).
  • Haimson, B. C. and B. Voight, Crustal stress in Iceland. Pageoph, 115, 153-190 (1977).
  • Haimson, B. C., M.Y. Lee, N. Feknous, and P. de Courval, "Stress Measurements at the Site of the SM3 Hydroelectric Scheme, Near Sept-Iles, Quebec", Intl. J. Rock Mech. and Mining Sci., vol.33, 487-497, (1996).
  • Haimson, B. C., M. Y. Lee, and N. Chandler, Estimating the State of Stress at the Underground Research Laboratory from Hydraulic Fracturing Tests in Three Holes of Different Plunges, in Rock Mechanics Tools and Techniques, Eds. M. Aubertin, F. Hassani and H. Mitri, Balkema Pub., vol. I, 913-919 (1996).
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  • Hickman, S. H. and M. D. Zoback, The Interpretation of Hydraulic Fracturing Pressure-Time Data from In-situ Stress Determination, in Hydraulic Fracturing Stress Measurements, National Academy Press, Washington, D. C., 44-54 (1983).
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  • Lee M. Y. and B. C. Haimson, PC-based Data Acquisition and Analysis Software for Hydraulic Fracturing Stress Measurements, in Field Measurements in Geotechnics, Ed (Sorum), 455-464 (1991).
  • Lee M. Y. and B. C. Haimson, Statistical Evaluation of Hydraulic Fracturing Stress Measurement Parameters, Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. & Geomech. Abstr., 26, 447-456 (1989).
  • Li, F., Q. Zhai, M. D. Zoback, B. C. Haimson, and M. Y. Lee, Stress Measurement in the Red River Fault Region of Yunnan province, China, EOS, Trans. Am. Geophys. U., 66, 1060 (1985).
  • Ma, M., Hydraulic Conductivity Evaluation of Potential Underground Sites for Housing Superconductive Magnet Using Field and Laboratory Methods, M. S. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979).
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  • Ren, N. K., Experimental Evaluation of Mechanical Anisotropy in the Waterloo Quartzite, M. S. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979).
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  • Rogiers, J. C., C. Fairhurst and R. B. Rosene, The DSP - A New Instrument for Estimation of the In-Situ Stress State at Depth, paper SPE 4246 presented at 6th Conference on Drilling and Rock Mechanics of SPE-AIME, Austin, Texas (1973).
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