Overview of 2014 | Initiative-Specific Topics
The capacity of a structural diagenetic approach to unravel previously indistinguishable fracture causes was demonstrated in several integrated studies in 2014. A Colorado example shows fractures formed in response to gas generation in adjacent shales and coals under high pore fluid pressure (Fall et al. 2015); a Mexico example shows fractures opened primarily under tectonic extension (Hooker et al. accepted). Two studies using outcrop and core data, kinematic and dynamic structural models and fracture growth reconstructions show complex fracture growth (Ukar et al., submitted, a, b).
A two-stage non-linear growth history was demonstrated in a Texas example using textural reconstruction and fluid inclusion microthermometry (Alzayer et al. submitted).
We described how rock type and diagenesis governs near-fault fracture size, openness and fault strength (Laubach et al., 2014).
We published our model that accounts for crystal growth patterns and internal textures in quartz cement in fractures, including massive sealing deposits and veneers on open fracture surfaces and bridge structures that span otherwise open fractures (Lander & Laubach, in press). A new code predicts extent of fracture bridging by quartz cement, accounting for euhedral/non euhedral nucleation surfaces, crystal size, temperature, and fracture opening and allows efficient accounting for these effects in our geomechanical model.
The figure shows output from the Lander/Laubach model: a fractured quartz grain (grey) and rapidly accumulated non-euhedral quartz (red) and slowly accumulated euhedral quartz (blue/green) record the history of fracture opening like tree rings, permitting hitherto impossible reconstructions of the histories of fracture development.
A new technique to quantify fracture spacing (Marrett et al. in preparation) applied to fracture arrays where we are testing a model that predicts size scaling based on fracture cohesion explores how fracture spatial arrangement and cementation may be related.
Diagenetic modeling and laboratory experiments show how fractures, cement textures, and mechanical properties evolve with progressive diagenesis. Experimental fracture diagenesis in the laboratory created artificial cement using a wide range of pore fluids and host minerals to test elements of fracture growth and diagenesis models.
In the context of project findings on structural diagenesis we published reviews of fracture size-scaling in sandstone (Hooker et al. 2014), microfractures (Anders, Laubach & Scholz 2014) and fractures in shale (Gale et al. 2014).
Jon Olson Named Chair of UT Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering
Dr. Jon Olson, who currently holds the George H. Fancher Professorship in Petroleum Engineering and has spent 20 years as a faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin, has been appointed chair of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering (PGE) in the Cockrell School of Engineering.
On Jan. 1, he will take the helm of a department that is considered one of the most prestigious petroleum engineering programs in the world, with 22 faculty members and more than 730 students. The department’s petroleum engineering graduate and undergraduate programs are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, according to the most recent U.S. News & World Report national rankings, and entry-level salaries for its graduates are the highest among any engineering major.
PGE faculty members and their collaborators are world leaders in petroleum-related research.
Jon is a co-founder of the Structural Diagenesis Initiative and of FRAC. Congratulations Jon!
Read more on this story on the PGE web site.
Major Review Published on Fractures in Shale | AAPG Bulletin
Our recent lead paper in a special issue of AAPG Bulletin on faulting and fracturing in shales and self-sourced reservoirs features a new compilation of observations on shale fracture systems worldwide and a critical review of previous work on natural fracture systems in shale.
Gale et al. 2014 shows that fracture systems in shales are heterogeneous. They can enhance or detract from producibility and augment or reduce both rock strength and the propensity to interact with hydraulic-fracture stimulation. Structural diagenesis provides insights that are leading to more accurate predictions of fracture attributes in these important rocks.
Gale, J. F. W., Laubach, S. E., Olson, J. E., Eichhubl, P., and Fall, A., 2014, Natural fractures in shale: a review and new observations. AAPG Bulletin, v. 98, no. 11, p. 2165-2216. doi: 10.1306/08121413151 (published November 2014) | view at GSW
Fracture Diagenesis Paper Published | GSA Bulletin
Our paper describing a new model that accounts for crystal growth patterns and internal textures in quartz cement in fractures, including massive sealing deposits, thin rinds (or veneers) on open fracture surfaces and bridge structures that span otherwise open fractures is now published in the GSA Bulletin.
Lander R.H., and Laubach, S.E., 2014, Insights into rates of fracture growth and sealing from a model for quartz cementation in fractured sandstones. Geological Society of America Bulletin, doi: 10.1130/B31092.1, published online October 2014. The paper–published open access–can be viewed at the GSA Bulletin.
Petroleum Geomechanics and Fracture Interpretation Issue
Laubach, Marrett, Olson and Fomel are editing a Special Section on petroleum geomechanics and fracture interpretation for the SEG-AAPG journal INTERPRETATION. Papers will be due in April 2015, and the publication date is November 2015. If you are interested in joining the editorial team, contact Steve Laubach.
Interpretation of petroleum geomechanics and fracture data is increasingly central in many exploration and development situations. This issue will investigate petroleum geomechanics interpretations, encompassing examples from structural geology, rock mechanics, petroleum engineering, and geophysics to address a wide range of geomechanical problems that arise during the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs. Topics to be covered include the exploration, assessment and production phases of petroleum reservoir development.
Impact Papers | Citations
According to GeoscienceWorld the list of 20 ‘most cited’ articles in AAPG Bulletin as of December 1, 2014 included the following Structural Diagenesis initiative papers.
#3 Practical approaches to identifying sealed and open fractures Laubach, S. E., 2003, AAPG Bulletin, v. 87, No. 4, 561-579. | view at publisher
#4 Toward more accurate quartz cement models—The importance of euhedral vs. non-euhedral growth rates Lander, R.H., Larese, R.E. & Bonnell, L.M., 2008, AAPG Bulletin, v 92, no. 11, p. 1537-1564. | AAPG Notable Paper
#18 A scale-independent approach to fracture intensity and average fracture spacing Ortega, O. J., Marrett, R., & Laubach, S. E., 2006, AAPG Bulletin, v. 90, no. 2 (Feb. 2006), 193-208 .| AAPG Notable Paper | view at publisher
#20 Natural fracture characterization in tight gas sandstones: Integrating mechanics and diagenesis Olson, J. E, Laubach, S. E., & Lander, R. H., 2009, AAPG Bulletin, v. 93, no. 11, p. 1535-1549. | AAPG Notable Paper | view at publisher
GSA Symposium 2015–Brittle Structure of Rocky Mountain Reservoirs & Analogs
S.E. Laubach is organizing a Symposium for the Rocky Mountain GSA Section Meeting in Casper, Wyoming, May 21-23, 2015. The topic is Brittle Structures of Rocky Mountain Reservoirs and Reservoir Analogs.
The symposium Brittle Structures of Rocky Mountain Reservoirs and Reservoir Analogs will cover a wide range of issues including mechanical and fracture stratigraphy, fault and fracture origins and timing, fracture size and porosity patterns, and natural fracture-hydraulic fracture interaction.
Laubach appointed to Journal of Structural Geology Editorial Board
Steve Laubach has been appointed to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Structural Geology. This journal is the leading venue for publication of structural geologic research.
The Structural Diagenesis Initiative currently has two papers in press in the journal, one of which–a review of microfractures–is the #1 most downloaded paper for this journal for the past several months.
In 2010 the journal published our review of the need for structural diagenesis research (Laubach, S.E, P. Eichhubl, C. Hilgers, R.H. Lander, 2010, Structural diagenesis. Journal of Structural Geology, v. 32, no. 12, p. 1866-1872. doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2010.10.001). The publisher recognized this paper as among the top 20 cited papers in the journal since 2009. Two other SDI papers are on this list.
SDI researchers have published many papers in the journal. A notable contribution is by SDI scientist Randy Marrett. His paper with Rick Almendinger on kinematic analysis of fault-slip data is the 18th most-highly cited paper in the history of the journal.
Hydrofracturing–modern & novel methods
The special section of SEG’s journal The Leading Edge edited by Jon Olson and Steve Laubach appeared in the October 2014 issue. The special section topic is modern and novel methods in hydraulic fracturing.
The rate of success in many unconventional plays for oil and gas depend strongly on finding the sweet spots, particularly with regard to TOC and maturation. However, just as important is determining where the wellbore and the hydraulic fractures are placed during drilling and completions. The articles of this special session treat the topic of detecting (or diagnosing) wellbore and fracture placement, using novel hydraulic fracture characterization techniques related to passive or active monitoring during completions or reservoir performance diagnostics once the well is put on production.
Investigation of the interaction of natural and hydraulic fractures is an ongoing part of the SDI program.
Shell Outstanding Researcher Award 2014
Congratulations to Nike Tokan-Lawal, M.S. student in the FRAC and SDI program, who will be distinguished with the Shell Outstanding Researcher Award, in recognition of her work on the SUTUR project. Nike’s work crosses the disciplinary boundary between geoscience and engineering. She recently presented some aspects of her thesis work at the URTEC meeting.
Tokan-Lawal et al., 2014, Understanding tortuosity and permeability variations in naturally fractured reservoirs: Niobrara Formation. Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, SPE-2014-1922870-MS. doi.org/10.15530/urtec-2014-1922870
16th Annual Fracture Research & Application Consortium Meeting
Scheduled for Camp Balcones Springs in the the Texas Hill Country September 15th through 17th, the meeting will feature a field workshop on new approaches to spatial organization and an introduction to new software for quantifying fracture clustering. Many SDI students will present their work to a select industry audience of structure and exploration & development experts. See the Events page for more information.
2014 Field Expedition to the Northern Tetons, Wyoming
A successful field expedition to NW Wyoming was concluded in late August. Lauren Copley’s field party examined fractures in Cambrian rocks as part of a National Park Service sanctioned research project. The study is aimed at understanding deformation patterns associated with basement-involved reverse faults. Lauren Copley will present preliminary results of the study at this year’s Geological Society of America meeting in Vancouver. The image, by Eva Laubach, field assistant and expedition photographer, shows the field party preparing to set out, at 5 am under starlight and moonlight, on a 16 mile hike covering more than 5000 ft of elevation gain to view exposures deep in the range. More information and photographs will be provided on the SDI field expeditions page.
2014 International Year of Crystallography
The International Year of Crystallography 2014 (IYCr2014) commemorates the centennial of X-ray diffraction and the 400th anniversary of Kepler’s observation in 1611 of the symmetrical form of ice crystals, which began the wider study of the role of symmetry in matter.
The Structural Diagenesis Initiative is doing it’s part by helping to rewrite the book on how quartz — the most important mineral in the Earth’s crust — grows in fractures:
- Lander R.H., and Laubach, S.E., in press, Insights into rates of fracture growth and sealing from a model for quartz cementation in fractured sandstones. Geological Society of America Bulletin, doi: 10.1130/B31092.1. | A general model for quartz growth in fractures.
- Fall, A., Eichhubl, P., Bodnar, R. J., Laubach, S. E., Davis, J. S., 2014, Natural hydraulic fracturing of tight-gas sandstone reservoirs, Piceance Basin, Colorado. Geological Society of America Bulletin. doi:10.1130/B31021.1. | Includes accounts of quartz growth in fractures throughout a wide area of the Rockies over tens of millions of years.
Recognition for Slow Fracture Opening Account | Citations
According to the Geological Society of America, as of June 2014, the SDI paper describing A 48 m.y. history of fracture opening, temperature, and fluid pressure: Cretaceous Travis Peak Formation, East Texas basin, is the third mostly highly cited recent article in the Geological Society of America Bulletin. The paper by S.P. Becker, P. Eichhubl, S.E. Laubach, R.M. Reed, R.H. Lander, and R.J. Bodnar was published July 2010, in v. 122, no. 7-8, p. 1081-1093. doi:10.1130/B26404.1. The GSA list is here.
Lander: Distinguished Lecturer 2015-2016
R. H. Lander was named AAPG Distinguished Lecturer for 2015-2016. This recognition marks an unprecedented eight distinguished lecture tours by SDI project scientists that have been sponsored by a professional society (and 9 overall) since initiation of the project.
Rob also has the distinction of having edited a 2010 special issue of AAPG Bulletin that produced six of the ten AAPG Bulletin Notable Papers for that year including the paper by Rob Lander and Linda Bonnell that won the AAPG Pratt Award for best paper in the Bulletin.
Top Downloads: Microfracture Review
Microfractures: A Review is on the June 2014 top down loads list for Journal of Structural Geology.
As of November 2014, #1 on downloads list.
Down load and read the article here.
- Anders, M. H., Laubach, S. E., and Scholz, C. H., 2014, Microfractures: A review. Journal of Structural Geology. doi: 10.1016/j.jsg.2014.05.011
The review paper provides a historical perspective on microfracture research and an appreciation of future research directions. Among the topics discussed are experimentally produced microfractures, paleostress and microfractures, scaling of microfracture aperture and length, microfractures in shale, sealing of microfractures, and an assessment of geomechanical and geochemical interaction in microfracture development.
Council on Earth Sciences
S. E. Laubach was appointed to the Council on Earth Sciences for a 6-year term. The Council is sponsored by the US Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Although it is not an advisory committee in federal parlance it does play an important role monitoring cutting edge science and planning and conducting workshops on challenging science areas that have long-term relevance for DOE mission areas broadly defined. Composed of scientists from National Laboratories and Universities, the Council gathers twice yearly to hear about DOE Geosciences activities across the agency.
Hydrofracturing: Modern & Novel Methods
J. E. Olson and S. E. Laubach edited a special issue of The Leading Edge on hydrofracturing technology. Final papers were due in June, and the volume was published in October. For more information on our research on the interaction of natural and hydraulic fractures, see the 2014 papers by Wu and Olson.
Progress Report Issued on Seismic Diffraction Imaging for Fracture Characterization
A report on our ongoing work to improve fracture characterization with seismic diffraction imaging has been issued. The report covers the theory and practice of diffraction imaging, fracture modeling in support of the research effort, and geologic calibration. The entire report and related slide sets can be found on the FRAC site.
- Fomel, S., Eichhubl, P., Klokov, A., Olson, J., Sheibani, F., Laubach, S.E., T. Weisenberger, T., Hooker, J. N., Fall, A., 2014, Multiazimuth Seismic Diffraction Imaging for Fracture Characterization in Low-Permeability Gas Formations, Report, 08122.53, Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, 168 p.
Geology of the Haynesville Published
Julia Gale and Ursula Hammes edited recently published AAPG Memoir 105, Geology of the Haynesville Gas Shale in East Texas and West Louisiana, 2014. More information and links on the SDI publication page.
Publication Award 2014
John N. Hooker has been awarded the Jackson School Publication Bronze Award for student-authored publication and the Best Student Paper Award in the JSG Energy Theme for Fracture-aperture size–frequency, spatial distribution, and growth processes in strata-bounded and non-strata-bounded fractures, Cambrian Mesón Group, NW Argentina. Journal of Structural Geology, v. 54, p. 54-71. doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2013.06.011. John’s dissertation advisers S.E. Laubach and R. Marrett are co-authors. Hooker is currently on the research staff at Oxford University. Read the paper at publisher’s site.
Olson SPE Distinguished Lecture Tour Underway 2014-2015
Jon Olson’s SPE DL tour is underway. Contact Olson for schedule information.
May: Upcoming Presentations
- Rob Lander presents A Model for Quartz Cementation in Fractured Sandstones at the Geological Society, London, on May 29 at the Reservoir Quality of Clastic and Carbonate Rocks: Analysis, Modelling and Prediction meeting. Rob is a co-chair of the meeting. More information is on the Geological Society site.
- Steve Laubach presents Rates of Fracture Array Growth at the Basic Energy Sciences Geoscience PI Symposium in Gaithersburg on May 16.
S.E. Laubach joined the editorial board of the SEG-AAPG journal INTERPRETATION.
Laubach is also editing a theme issue on “Fractures”. Manuscripts are due on the 1st of October.
A theme issue on “Geomechanics” is in the planning stages.
Review: Advances in Carbonate Exploration & Reservoir Analysis
Read the review of Geological Society Special Publication 370 in the Geoscientist. The volume was co-edited by SDI researcher Laubach and contains our paper on dolostone fracture diagenesis and scaling (Hooker et al., 2012).
Highly Cited since 2009
Three project papers have been recognized as among the top 25 most highly cited papers since 2009 by the publisher of Journal of Structural Geology.
- Pure and shear-enhanced compaction bands in Aztec Sandstone. Eichhubl, Hooker, Laubach | 2010
- Aperture-size scaling variations in a low-strain opening-mode fracture set, Cozzette Sandstone, Colorado. Hooker, Gale, Gomez, Laubach, Marrett | 2009
- Structural diagenesis. Laubach, Eichhubl, Hilgers, Lander | 2010
Jon Olson promoted to Professor | PGE
Congratulations to Jon Olson on his promotion to full professor. Olson will be on the road as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2014. Contact SPE for Olson’s speaking schedule. Slides are available on the FRAC web site.
Olson to deliver SPE Distinguished Lecture Tour 2014-2015
SDI/FRAC Student Event Rescheduled and Research Colloquium Planned
Highly Cited Papers in JSG since 2008
Two project papers have been recognized as among the mostly highly cited since 2008 by the publisher of Journal of Structural Geology.
- Pure and shear-enhanced compaction bands in Aztec Sandstone v. 32/12, December 2010, p. 1873-1886. Eichhubl, P. | Hooker, J.N. | Laubach, S.E.
- Aperture-size scaling variations in a low-strain opening-mode fracture set, Cozzette Sandstone, Colorado v. 31/7, July 2009, p. 707-718. Hooker, J.N. | Gale, J.F.W. | Gomez, L.A. | Laubach, S.E. | Marrett, R.
New Developments in Spatial Scaling
Hottest Downloads 2013
A paper by industry research partner Rick Schultz with co-author J.E. Olson is listed as number 1 on the top 25 list of downloads for the Journal of Structural Geology January to March 2013. Statistical tests of scaling relationships for geologic structures, Journal of Structural Geology, v. 48, March 2013, p. 85-94 | by Schultz, R.A., Klimczak, C., Fossen, H., Olson, J.E., Exner, U., Reeves, D.M., Soliva, R.
Gale AAPG Distinguished Lecture tour
Julia F.W. Gale has been named an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer. Her lectures will describe the SD initiative’s work in shale/mudstone fracture systems worldwide. This recognition marks six distinguished lecture tours by SD initiative scientists that have been sponsored by a professional society (and 7 overall) since initiation of the SDI program | Julia’s slides can be found on the FRAC website | Tour information
Notable Papers 2005-2009
The AAPG Bulletin recently instituted recognition of notable papers published between 2005 to 2009. The top ten list for each year is based in part on a review of citation counts three years after publication of the paper and on content review by the Bulletin’s Editorial Board.
SEG Workshop 2013 | Keynote
AAPG Petroleum Structural Geology & Geomechanics
AAPG Charles Taylor Fellows Lecture
New students in SDI program 2013 | See Dissertation & Thesis
Advances in Carbonate Exploration and Reservoir Analysis
Unconventional Resources Technology Conference
AAPG Distinguished Lecture 2011-12
Calgary CSPG Lecture 2011-12 | Jon Olson’s talk at CSPG
FRAC Marcellus field trip | Field guide & photos
2012 Pratt Award for best paper in the AAPG Bulletin To Rob Lander and Linda Bonnell for their 2010 paper in AAPG Bulletin, vol. 94, p. 1161-1187, entitled A model for fibrous illite nucleation and growth in sandstones. Rob and Linda are co-founders of Geocosm LLC and Research Fellows with the Structural Diagenesis Initiative.
2011 Bureau of Economic Geology Publication Award
SD Initiative paper recognized by publisher for top citations
Diagenesis in porosity evolution of opening-mode fractures, Middle Triassic to Lower Jurassic La Boca Formation, NE Mexico by S.E. Laubach and M. Ward
Tectonophysics 419, Issue 1-4 (2006), p. 75-97. | View at Publisher>>
Two SD Initiative papers named in ScienceDirect Top 25 Articles based on downloads
No. 4: Structural diagenesis Journal of Structural Geology, v. 32, no. 12, 2010, p. 1866-1872, Laubach, S.E.; Eichhubl, P.; Hilgers, C.; Lander, R.H.
No. 20: Determining brittle extension and shear strain using fault-length and displacement systematics: Part I: Theory Journal of Structural Geology, v. 32, no. 12, 2010, p. 1960-1977, Twiss, R.J.; Marrett, R