Changes in permeability caused by transient stresses: field observations, experiments, and mechanisms

Reviews of Geophysics
By: , and 

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Abstract

Oscillations in stress, such as those created by earthquakes, can increase permeability and fluid mobility in geologic media. In natural systems, strain amplitudes as small as 10–6 can increase discharge in streams and springs, change the water level in wells, and enhance production from petroleum reservoirs. Enhanced permeability typically recovers to prestimulated values over a period of months to years. Mechanisms that can change permeability at such small stresses include unblocking pores, either by breaking up permeability-limiting colloidal deposits or by mobilizing droplets and bubbles trapped in pores by capillary forces. The recovery time over which permeability returns to the prestimulated value is governed by the time to reblock pores, or for geochemical processes to seal pores. Monitoring permeability in geothermal systems where there is abundant seismicity, and the response of flow to local and regional earthquakes, would help test some of the proposed mechanisms and identify controls on permeability and its evolution.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Changes in permeability caused by transient stresses: field observations, experiments, and mechanisms
Series title Reviews of Geophysics
DOI 10.1029/2011RG000382
Volume 50
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Branch of Regional Research-Western Region, Volcano Hazards Program
Description 24 p.; RG2004
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Reviews of Geophysics
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