• Investigating the Volume and Structure of Porosity in Fractured and Unfractured Rock from the Newberry Volcano, Oregon: An Evaluation and Comparison of Two- and Three- Dimensional Methods

      Davatzes, Nicholas; Davatzes, Alexandra K.; Grandstaff, David E. (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)
      Porosity is a fundamental characteristic of rock critical to its mechanical and hydrologic behavior, yet a study of the open and accumulated healed porosity of nine core samples from Newberry Volcano shows that different measurement methods produce significantly different estimates of pore volume and structure. This study compares traditional 2D point count, petrographic image analysis, and 3D x-ray Micro Computed Tomography (micro CT) measurement of porosity primarily derived from fracture slip and dilation. The set of measurements quantifies the discrepancy among measurement methods and provides a basis for assessing how this uncertainty depends on geologic factors including the stage of fracture development, and the size and connectivity of the pores. This comparison reveals that detailed petrographic mapping provides the most accurate characterization of fracture porosity, and its history of development, owing to its high spatial resolution and accuracy of phase identification as well as insights afforded from mineralogic and textural relationships. However, this analysis lacks the three-dimensional characterization necessary to determine pore shape and interconnectedness, especially in highly anisotropic and heterogeneous fracture porosity. Micro CT does characterize the three dimensionality of pores, and thus although it consistently underestimates porosity due to non-uniqueness of phase densities and limitations in resolution, and is difficult to post process, this method can usefully augment the petrographic analysis. High resolution mapping of petrographic thin sections also provides a means to characterize the roughness of fracture surfaces across multiple cycles of slip, related dilation, and healing. Analysis of 19 slip events on a small, early stage fracture experiencing less than mm-scale slip, indicates that this roughness is preserved across multiple slip events and is consistently associated with dilation recorded by the accumulation of layers of precipitated cement. Initially, characteristic length scales intrinsic to rock such as the primary grain and pore size distribution of the > 0.2 mm size fraction significantly influence the roughness of fractures, until the dominant mechanism of fracture growth becomes linkage among macroscopic fractures. This correlation among primary rock characteristics such as grain size, fracture roughness, repeated fracture slip, and dilation provides a potential method to assess the key attributes promoting dilatant, self-propping fracture slip necessary for successful stimulation to generate an Enhanced Geothermal System. Comparison to more developed fractures characterized by the development of fault rock suggest such stimulation is most successful for fractures sustaining small slip of a few millimeters or less during single slip events.