Elastic response of porous rock to accumulated slip on strike slip fault networks in geo-reservoirs

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2 Scopus citations


Subsurface reservoirs are generally highly fractured, whereby fractures constitute a natural fluid flow path and define the preferential flow direction. Slip accumulated during the faulting process alters also the petrophysical properties of the host rock. Although the mechanical alteration of the host rock, and related porosity and permeability changes, due to fault slip has been previously described, a predictive physics-based model has not been scaled with fault length in reservoirs to provide an initial porosity permeability alteration model yet. In this study, we develop a predictive model to quantify how accumulated fault slip changes porosity and permeability in a porous medium, by combining deformation modeling based on triangular dislocations and linearized poro-elasticity equations. We applied our model the Ghawar field fault map and rock-types. We conducted a Monte-Carlo simulation, varying fault roughness and accumulated slip, to quantify the corresponding variation in porosity and permeability using a 5 km long strike-slip fault and three different rock-types. Our Monte-Carlo simulation shows that long-term accumulated slip on rough strike-slip fault surfaces change porosity by ±1%, leading to an absolute permeability change of up to 22.5%. We further used these results as a benchmark for the elastic response of porous rocks to accumulated slip scaled to certain fault length. Using these benchmark results for Ghawar field reservoir rocks, we determined the slip-related porous medium permeability changes for every fault on the Ghawar fault map, accounting for their length, location, and orientation. In doing so, we found that fault roughness, slip amount, and shear sense all affect the medium's permeability, creating substantial permeability anisotropies. Locally, these anisotropies are further enhanced by superposition of permeability changes of individual faults that constitute the fault system. We suggest the resulting permeability distribution model should be used as the initial permeability model for porous media in fractured reservoirs.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105370
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
StatePublished - Mar 23 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-03-28
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): BAS/1/1339-01-01, REI/1/4502-01-01
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge the fruitful discussion with Dmitry Garagash and his suggestions. Also the authors would like to thank Jagdish Vyas for his proof read on index notation derivation. Finally, the authors would like to thank the reviewers for their helpful comments, which improved the manuscript and the overall presentation. The research reported in this publication was supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST, grants BAS/1/1339-01-01, and REI/1/4502-01-01). Figures and tables in the main manuscript provide all data used in this investigation.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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