The Coso geothermal field, located along the Eastern California Shear Zone, is composed of fractured granitic rocks above a shallow heat source. Temperatures exceed 640 ?F (~338 ?C) at a depth of less than 10000 feet (3 km). Permeability varies throughout the geothermal field due to the competing processes of alteration and mineral precipitation, acting to reduce the interconnectivity of faults and fractures, and the generation of new fractures through faulting and brecciation. Currently, several hot regions display very low permeability, not conducive to the efficient extraction of heat. Because high rates of seismicity in the field indicate that the area is highly stressed, enhanced permeability can be stimulated by increasing the fluid pressure at depth to induce faulting along the existing network of fractures. Such an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS), planned for well 46A-19RD, would greatly facilitate the extraction of geothermal fluids from depth by increasing the extent and depth of the fracture network.
In order to prepare for and interpret data from such a stimulation experiment, the physical properties and failure behavior of the target rocks must be fully understood. Various diorites and granodiorites are the predominant rock types in the target area of the well, which will be pressurized from 10000 feet measured depth (MD) (3048m MD) to the bottom of the well at 13,000 feet MD (3962 m MD). Because there are no core rocks currently available from well 46A-19RD, we report here on the results of compressive strength, frictional sliding behavior, and elastic measurements of a granodiorite and diorite from another well, 34-9RD2, at the Coso site. Rocks cored from well 34-9RD2 are the deepest samples to date available for testing, and are representative of rocks from the field in general.
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USGS Numbered Series
Physical properties of two core samples from Well 34-9RD2 at the Coso geothermal field, California