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Competing controls of fluid overpressurization and chloritization on strength and instability of faults in granite: Implications for seismicity triggered by fluid-injection

Citation

Zhang, Fengshou et al. (2022), Competing controls of fluid overpressurization and chloritization on strength and instability of faults in granite: Implications for seismicity triggered by fluid-injection, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tb2rbp02j

Abstract

Fluids injection for hydraulic stimulation and fracturing, typical in the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) in granites, can reactivate deep faults and induce seismicity. Such faults typically contain chlorite coatings as an alteration product that may impact styles of deformation – aseismic through seismic. We performed shear experiments on simulated granite fault gouges under conditions typifying a geothermal reservoir at ~4 km depth with a confining pressure of 110 MPa, a temperature of 150℃, fluid pressures of 21-80 MPa, and chlorite contents of 0-100%, to investigate the influence of effective stress and mineral composition on fault strength and stability. Our results show a transition from velocity-strengthening to velocity-weakening behavior in simulated granite gouge when the fluid pressure was elevated from 21 to 80 MPa, characterized by a transition from fault compaction to dilation – as revealed by microstructural observations – with implications in enabling unstable failure. Conversely, increasing chlorite content stabilizes slip but reduces frictional strength. The microstructures of these mixed gouges exhibit shear localized on chlorite-enriched planes and promoting fault sliding. These results suggest that earthquake ruptures occurring during fluid injection can be facilitated by fluid overpressures. And that controlling fluid overpressures and being aware of the presence of alteration minerals are both important controls in mitigating such injection-induced seismic risks.