Quantifying the spatial variability of fractures and fracture network properties
Hanke, John Robert
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Fracture networks can have a significant impact on the performance of subsurface reservoirs, and therefore have a wide variety of industrial applications (e.g., oil and gas, economic ore deposits, hydrogeology, environmental science). Collectively, these industries make multi-trillion dollar decisions based on information gathered from geological models. As a result, these industries are faced with the ongoing risk that unreliable models lead to costly mistakes.;The reliability of all rock fracture models is coupled with the spatial variability (e.g., spatial heterogeneity and anisotropy) of fracture network characteristics. This study provides a foundation for developing a new generation of mechanical and stochastic fracture modeling techniques that incorporate constraints on spatial variability. More specifically, it introduces new applications of the semivariogram to quantitatively characterize the scale, style, and abundance of spatial variability exhibited by a natural fracture network. It also includes a case study that demonstrates how such information can correlate to nearby geological structures. Analysis of spatial variability is essential for improving the reliability of fracture and fracture network predictions in the subsurface of the Earth.