Measuring Fault Zone and Host Rock Hydraulic Properties Using Tidal Responses


Pore pressure diffusion along faults influences induced seismicity and rupture mechanics. In situ hydraulic diffusivity measurements along faults are rare and generally lower than inferred from seismicity migration. Here we use the tidal response of deep geothermal boreholes to measure fault diffusivity and permeability. Initial interpretations of the observation with a homogeneous confined aquifer model result in diffusivities of 10−3–10−1 m2/s. However, this model mixes signals from both the conduit and the host rock. We develop a model for tidal response with a fault passing through the aquifer based on the fault-guided fracture network and solve for hydraulic properties in both the fault and the host rock. The resulting fault permeability is 2 × 10−14–7 × 10−14 m2 (90% confidence interval[CI]) and fault diffusivity is 0.08–0.33 m2/s (90% CI), which is 2 orders of magnitude higher than the host rock diffusivity in some wells, thus highlighting the role of faults as fluid conduits.

Publication Title

Geophysical Research Letters