Heterogeneity of structure and stress in the Rotokawa Geothermal Field, New Zealand
McNamara, David D.
Wallis, Irene C.
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McNamara, David D., Massiot, Cécile, Lewis, Brandon, & Wallis, Irene C. (2015). Heterogeneity of structure and stress in the Rotokawa Geothermal Field, New Zealand. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 120(2), 1243-1262. doi: 10.1002/2014JB011480
Geometric characterization of a geothermal reservoir's structures, and their relation to stress field orientation, is vital for resource development. Subsurface structure and stress field orientations of the Rotokawa Geothermal Field, New Zealand, have been studied, for the first time, using observations obtained from analysis of three acoustic borehole televiewer logs. While an overall NE-SW fracture strike exists, heterogeneity in fracture dip orientation is evident. Dominant dip direction changes from well to well due to proximity to variously oriented, graben-bounding faults. Fracture orientation heterogeneity also occurs within individual wells, where fractures clusters within certain depth intervals have antithetic dip directions to the well's dominant fracture dip direction. These patterns are consistent with expected antithetic faulting in extensional environments. A general S-Hmax orientation of NE-SW is determined from induced features on borehole walls. However, numerous localized azimuthal variations from this trend are evident, constituting stress field orientation heterogeneity. These variations are attributed to slip on fracture planes evidenced by changes in the azimuth of drilling-induced tensile fractures either side of a natural fracture. Correlation of observed fracture properties and patterns to well permeability indicators reveal that fractures play a role in fluid flow in the Rotokawa geothermal reservoir. Permeable zones commonly contain wide aperture fractures and high fracture densities which have a dominant NE-SW strike orientation and NW dip direction. Studies of this kind, which show strong interdependency of structure and stress field properties, are essential to understand fluid flow in geothermal reservoirs where structural permeability dominates.