Permeability, porosity, and volumetric strain measurements were conducted on granite cores obtained at depths of 0.7 to 1.6 km from the Illinois UPH 3 drillhole at effective confining pressures from 5 to 100 MPa. Initial permeabilities were in the range of 10-17 to 10-19 m2 and dropped rapidly with applied pressure to values between 10-20 and 10-24 m2 at 100 MPa, typical of other deep granite core samples. These values are several decades lower than equivalent weathered surface granites at comparable effective confining pressures, where weathering products in cracks and pores inhibit crack closure with applied pressure. Permeabilities of the Illinois cores were inversely related to sample depth, suggesting that stress relief and thermal microfractures induced during core retrieval dominated the fluid flow. Thus these samples provide an upper bound on in situ matrix permeability values. A comparison of core permeability from UPH 3 and other deep drillholes shows that stress relief damage can often dominate laboratory permeability measurements. We conclude that it may be difficult to make meaningful estimates of in situ permeability based on either borehole samples (possible damage during retrieval) or surface-derived analogs (altered by weathering). Volumetric strain determined from porosity measurements was compared with differential strain analysis (DSA) data reported by other investigators on samples from the same depths in the drillhole. Our strain measurements (0.002 to 0.005 at 100 MPa) were nearly twice as large as the DSA values, probably because of the crack-enhancing effects of fluids present in our samples that are absent in the dry DSA cores, as well as other time-dependent deformation effects. This difference in observed strain magnitudes between the two measurement methods may be an important consideration if strain and/or porosity data from deep core samples are used in models of stress, fluid circulation, and excess fluid pressure generation in the midcrust.
Additional publication details
Permeability and porosity of the Illinois UPH 3 drillhole granite and a comparison with other deep drillhole rocks