UT GeoFluids Consortium

UT GeoFluids studies the state and evolution of pressure, stress, deformation and fluid migration through experiments, theoretical analysis, and field study. The University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at the Jackson School of Geosciences partners with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT.

Research Product and Objectives
Research Proposal
Executive Summary
Memorandum of Agreement

Experimental: We analyze the fabric, acoustic, electrical, and mechanical properties of mudrocks over effective stresses from 0.1-100 MPa. We study 1) real geologic materials (Gulf of Mexico mudrock, Boston Blue Clay) using resedimentation techniques and 2) core from a range of depths in the subsurface. Analysis of resedimented material allows us to examine material properties of a consistent material at a range of in-situ stresses. Uniaxial consolidation experiments measure vertical and lateral stress, resistivity, permeability, and velocity (Vp & Vs) during compression. Triaxial experiments measure strength parameters. We describe and quantify mudrock fabric at various effective stresses with mercury porosimetry, and x-ray goniometry and image mudrock fabric using electron beam techniques. We 1) illuminate the origin and evolution anisotropy in mudrocks, 2) document how composition (e.g. clay/silt fraction and clay composition) controls geomechanical properties, and 3) develop a geomechanical model for mudrocks that will better allow us to predict compaction behavior, pore pressure, and borehole stability at geologic stresses.

Poromechanical Modeling: We develop and apply models that link realistic rheologies, deformation, stress (shear and normal), and pore pressure. Pressure prediction techniques and basin modeling generally assume uniaxial deformation. In areas of central interest to the petroleum industry, deformation is not uniaxial and stress and pressure are coupled in more complex ways. In thrust belts, the lateral stress is greater than the vertical stress and sediment that was originally buried in a basin under uniaxial strain is later deformed in plane strain. In the sub-salt regime, the interaction of isostatically stressed salt with sediment that bears differential stresses results in complex stress and deformation near the salt-sediment interface. To understand and ultimately predict pressures, stresses, and rock properties in these regimes, a new level of understanding, modeling, and analysis must be applied.

Field Studies: We analysize pore pressure in thrust belts and in salt provinces. In the subsalt, we analyze pressure and stress in and near the Mad Dog field to understand how pore pressure couples with salt advancement and to study the present state of stress and pressure in sub-salt systems. We study fold thrust systems through ongoing work in the Nankai Trough. We look forward to working with industry data sets in deepwater fold-thrust belts.

Consortium members have access to UT GeoFluids data and publications via the Member's Area. If your company would like to become a member of our consortium please contact:

Peter Flemings
Co-Director of the GeoFluids Consortium (UT Austin)

Jack Germaine
Co-Director of the GeoFluids Consortium (MIT)