In situ stress, natural fracture distribution, and borehole elongation in the Auburn Geothermal Well, Auburn, New York

Journal of Geophysical Research
By: , and 



Hydraulic fracturing stress measurements and a borehole televiewer survey were conducted in a 1.6‐km‐deep well at Auburn, New York. This well, which was drilled at the outer margin of the Appalachian Fold and Thrust Belt in the Appalachian Plateau, penetrates approximately 1540 m of lower Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and terminates 60 m into the Precambrian marble basement. Analysis of the hydraulic fracturing tests indicates that the minimum horizontal principal stress increases in a nearly linear fashion from 9.9±0.2 MPa at 593 m to 30.6±0.4 MPa at 1482 m. The magnitude of the maximum horizontal principal stress increases in a less regular fashion from 13.8±1.2 MPa to 49.0±2.0 MPa over the same depth range. The magnitudes of the horizontal principal stresses relative to the calculated overburden stress are somewhat lower than is the norm for this region and are indicative of a strike‐slip faulting regime that, at some depths, is transitional to normal faulting. As expected from the relative aseismicity of central New York State, however, analysis of the magnitudes of the horizontal principal stresses indicates, at least to a depth of 1.5 km, that frictional failure on favorably oriented preexisting fault planes is unlikely. Orientations of the hydraulic fractures at 593 and 919 m indicate that the azimuth of the maximum horizontal principal stress at Auburn is N83°E±15°, in agreement with other stress field indicators for this region. The borehole televiewer log revealed a considerable number of planar features in the Auburn well, the great majority of which are subhorizontal (dips < 5°) and are thought to be bedding plane washouts or drill bit scour marks. In addition, a smaller number of distinct natural fractures were observed on the borehole televiewer log. Of these, the distinct steeply dipping natural fractures in the lower half of the sedimentary section at Auburn tend to strike approximately east‐west, while those in the upper part of the well and in the Precambrian basement exhibit no strong preferred orientation. The origin of this east‐west striking fracture set is uncertain, as it is parallel both to the contemporary direction of maximum horizontal compression and to a late Paleozoic fracture set that has been mapped to the south of Auburn. In addition to these planar features the borehole televiewer log indicates paired dark bands on diametrically opposite sides of the borehole throughout the Auburn well. Processing of the borehole televiewer data in the time domain revealed these features to be irregular depressions in the borehole wall. As these depressions were consistently oriented in a direction at right angles to the direction of maximum horizontal compression, we interpret them to be the result of stress‐induced spalling of the borehole wall (breakouts).

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title In situ stress, natural fracture distribution, and borehole elongation in the Auburn Geothermal Well, Auburn, New York
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research
DOI 10.1029/JB090iB07p05497/full
Volume 90
Issue B7
Year Published 1985
Language English
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Geophysical Research
First page 5497
Last page 5512
Country United States
State New York
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page