Investigate effects of weak bedding interfaces on fracture geometry in unconventional reservoirs Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017 Elsevier B.V. Shale formations often consist of multiple weak interfaces between layers, which is easily opened during hydraulic fracturing treatment and affect growth of fracture height. Fracture propagation in such formations usually induced complex fracture geometry with primary vertical fractures and horizontal fracture segments between layers. Although numerous numerical models have been developed to simulate fracture propagation in unconventional reservoirs, relatively few physical three-dimensional models exist to quantitatively simulate opening of fractures affected by weak interfaces. In this paper, we analyze width profile of fractures and interaction of vertical and horizontal fracture segments with predetermined fracture path under the assumption of neglecting the flow effect. A fully three-dimensional displacement discontinuity method (3D DDM) is introduced to model multiple fractures in a stage in three dimensions. The fracture geometry is prescribed, which combined with vertical and horizontal fractures. In each case, the horizontal fracture is regarded as opening of the bedding interface and vertical fracture would either be arrested or directly cross the interface. Interfacial sliding distance, defined as width jump of the vertical fracture at the interface, is regarded as a primary impact of fracture height containment. Analysis of fracture opening, shear displacements and interfacial sliding distance is given for both vertical and horizontal fracture segments. When multiple vertical fractures intersect with a horizontal interface, shear displacements are induced on the interface and vertical fractures have smaller width compared with the case without the horizontal interface, as a result of the interaction with the interface. We observed that both widths of fracture segments and interfacial sliding distance are positively correlated with the distance between the center of the vertical fracture and the horizontal interface, half-length of horizontal fracture segment, the net pressure within fracture segments. Conversely, Young's Modulus has a negative relationship with both width of fracture segments and interfacial sliding distance. This paper analyzes the effects of opening of weak interfaces and provides critical insights of fracture width distribution and its impacts on proppant transport.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Tang, J., Wu, K., Zeng, B. o., Huang, H., Hu, X., Guo, X., & Zuo, L.

citation count

  • 62

complete list of authors

  • Tang, Jizhou||Wu, Kan||Zeng, Bo||Huang, Haoyong||Hu, Xiaodong||Guo, Xuyang||Zuo, Lihua

publication date

  • June 2018