Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Solid Earth, 9, 115–137, 2018
Solid Earth, 9, 115–137, 2018

Review article 21 Feb 2018

Review article | 21 Feb 2018

The seismo-hydromechanical behavior during deep geothermal reservoir stimulations: open questions tackled in a decameter-scale in situ stimulation experiment

Florian Amann1,a, Valentin Gischig2, Keith Evans2, Joseph Doetsch2, Reza Jalali2, Benoît Valley3, Hannes Krietsch2, Nathan Dutler3, Linus Villiger2, Bernard Brixel2, Maria Klepikova2, Anniina Kittilä2, Claudio Madonna2, Stefan Wiemer2, Martin O. Saar2, Simon Loew2, Thomas Driesner2, Hansruedi Maurer2, and Domenico Giardini2 Florian Amann et al.
  • 1Chair of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen, Lochnerstrasse 4–20, 52064 Aachen, Germany
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zurich, Sonneggstrasse 5, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Centre for Hydrogeology and Geothermics (CHYN), Laboratory of Geothermics and Reservoir Geomechanics, University of Neuchatel, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  • aformerly at: Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. In this contribution, we present a review of scientific research results that address seismo-hydromechanically coupled processes relevant for the development of a sustainable heat exchanger in low-permeability crystalline rock and introduce the design of the In situ Stimulation and Circulation (ISC) experiment at the Grimsel Test Site dedicated to studying such processes under controlled conditions. The review shows that research on reservoir stimulation for deep geothermal energy exploitation has been largely based on laboratory observations, large-scale projects and numerical models. Observations of full-scale reservoir stimulations have yielded important results. However, the limited access to the reservoir and limitations in the control on the experimental conditions during deep reservoir stimulations is insufficient to resolve the details of the hydromechanical processes that would enhance process understanding in a way that aids future stimulation design. Small-scale laboratory experiments provide fundamental insights into various processes relevant for enhanced geothermal energy, but suffer from (1) difficulties and uncertainties in upscaling the results to the field scale and (2) relatively homogeneous material and stress conditions that lead to an oversimplistic fracture flow and/or hydraulic fracture propagation behavior that is not representative of a heterogeneous reservoir. Thus, there is a need for intermediate-scale hydraulic stimulation experiments with high experimental control that bridge the various scales and for which access to the target rock mass with a comprehensive monitoring system is possible. The ISC experiment is designed to address open research questions in a naturally fractured and faulted crystalline rock mass at the Grimsel Test Site (Switzerland). Two hydraulic injection phases were executed to enhance the permeability of the rock mass. During the injection phases the rock mass deformation across fractures and within intact rock, the pore pressure distribution and propagation, and the microseismic response were monitored at a high spatial and temporal resolution.