Insights in the Northern Upper Rhine Graben

Fracture network is a crucial element to address in any model of the thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour of a reservoir rock. The newest study by Claire Bossennec et al. aims to provide quantified datasets and a further understanding of the critical parameters of the fracture network pattern in crystalline rocks.

In the Northern Upper Rhine Graben, such rock units are targeted for multiple energy applications, from deep geothermal heat extraction to heat storage. Eleven outcrops were investigated with a combined LiDAR and 2D profiles analysis to extract faults and fracture network geometrical parameters, including length distribution, orientation, connectivity, and topology.

These properties are used to decipher the structural architecture and estimate the flow properties of crystalline units. Fracture networks show a multi-scale power-law behaviour for length distribution. Fracture topology and orientation are mainly driven by both fault networks and lithology. Fracture apertures and permeability tensors were then calculated for two application case studies, including the stress field effect on aperture.

Obtained permeabilities are in the range of those observed in the sub-surface in currently exploited reservoirs. The dataset provided in this study is thus suitable to be implemented in the modelling during the exploration stage of industrial applications involving fractured crystalline reservoirs.

Find the paper here.


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