Research Product and Objectives

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UT GeoFluids Research Products—1 Page Overview

  1. EXPERIMENTAL: Analysis of fabric, acoustic, electrical, and mechanical properties of mudrocks over effective stresses from 0.1-100 MPa (14.5 -14,500 psi, or ~30,0000 ft.) using resedimented material and intact core: iluminate origin/evolution of anisotropy; document how composition (e.g. clay/silt fraction) contributes to geomechanical properties;
    1. Uniaxial consolidation experiments will measure vertical & lateral stress, resistivity, permeability, and velocity (Vp & Vs) during compression.
    2. Triaxial experiments will measure strength parameters.
    3. Fabric will be quantified with mercury porosimetry, x-ray goniometry, and electron beam techniques after specimens have been compressed and sheared.


  1. PORO-MECHANICAL MODELING:Develop and apply coupled models that link realistic rheologies, deformation, stress and pore pressure. Step beyond current models that assume uniaxial strain to better understand the benefits afforded by the use of more realistic simulation.
    1. Build and apply static Finite Element Models (FEM) models that include elastic-plastic soil behavior and steady-state flow to study characteristic salt systems.
    2. Develop FEM models that simulate the evolution of geologic systems, coupling deformation/burial, stress, fluid flow. Apply to characteristic salt and thrust belt systems.
  1. FIELD STUDY:Ground and motivate theoretical and experimental work in field-based studies of salt systems and thrust belts:
    1. Present case studies in/near the Mad Dog field (GOM) to understand how pore pressure couples with salt advancement and to study the present state of stress and pressure in sub-salt systems.
    2. Study fold thrust systems through ongoing work working with industry data sets in deepwater fold-thrust belts.


  1. ANNUAL MEETINGS & ANNUAL REPORTS: Hold annual meetings and post on line reports of all presentations.  
  2. ON-LINE DATABASE: Put all experimental results on-line; develop simplified geomechanical models for characteristic rock types.
  3. COMPANY VISITS: Company visits each year. Work with industry partners, give short courses, etc.
  4. MODEL RESULTS Post example run files and source codes developed for industry partner use in house.
  5. GRADUATE STUDENTS: 25 to 50 graduate students will be quantitative, have geological depth and be trained to work in an inter-disciplinary environment..

UT GeoFluids Research Products (1, 3, 5, and 10 Yr view)

1 Year:

  1. Experimental:
    1. Demonstrate high stress uniaxial compression experiments (<100 Mpa)
    2. Measure vertical and horizontal shear velocity (vs) during uniaxial consolidation (<1MPa). Report on response of vs to consolidation for mudstone.
    3. Uniaxially consolidate silt-clay mixtures (<10MPa): describe how permeability, and compression behavior vary as a function of admixing silt and clay. Develop a conceptual model for behavior.
    4. Work with Boston Blue Clay and mixtures of silt and clay. Quantify fabric (Mercury porosimetry, X ray goniometry, PSD, XRD)
  2. Modeling:
    1. Develop 2D Static Stress Model with elasto-plastic material behavior
      1. Provide comparison of elastic vs. visco-elastic model results for simple geometries salt geometries (e.g. salt diaper, sill): summarize implications for predicting in-situ stress state.
      2. Couple steady state fluid flow to 2D Static Stress model for simple salt geometries. Summarize implications of poro-mechanical coupling.
      3. Apply Static Stress model to realistic geological example. Summarize implications
  1. Field Study:
    1. Produce preliminary interpretation of present 2- and 3-D geometry and lithologic distribution of Mad Dog Region.
    2. Initial analysis of pressure, stress, and fluid distribution of Mad Dog System.

1 Year Stage Gate: 1) Demonstration of high stress consolidation; measurement of shear velocity. 2) 2D static stress models with elasto-plastic rheology; 3) Preliminary interpretation at Mad Dog.

3 Year:

  1. Experimental:
    1. Measure vertical and horizontal compressional velocity (vp) during uniaxial consolidation (<10MPa)
    2. High Stress strength measurements (<100MPa). Perform undrained shear experiments to illuminate behavior at high strength.
    3. Extend work to GOM mudstone
  1. Modeling:
    1. Further advance steady-state Static Stress Model. Illuminate stress behavior near salt for characteristic geometries. Provide conceptual understanding for stress and pore pressure behavior near salt.
    2. 2D Large Displacement model. Present 2D FEM models describing large displacement behavior illustrating the evolution of salt systems.
  2. Field Study:
    1. Present mature geological interpretation of state and evolution of Mad Dog system.
    2. Present mature view of plumbing at Mad Dog. Summary of pressure and stress behavior under salt.

3 Year Stage Gate: 1) Successful measurement of Vp and Vs, axially and radially for mudstone. 2) Successful demonstration of stress models coupling geological evolution; 3) Significant progress in analysis of Mad Dog.

5 Year:

  1. Experimental:
    1. Measure vertical and horizontal permeability to high stress (<100MPa).
    2. Begin measurement and interpretation of resistivity behavior
    3. Extend work to Nankai mudstone
  1. Modeling:
    1. Initiate 3-D Stress models.
    2. Present synthesis on salt advance through FEM modeling.
  2. Field Study:
    1. Complete Analysis of Mad Dog region. 
    2. Present preliminary analysis of thrust belt system.

5 Year Stage Gate: 1) Successful measurement of high stress strength behavior and permeability anisotropy; 2)  Successful application of stress models to Mad Dog. 3) Completion of MadDog analysis.

10 Year:
1. Experimental:

  1. Complete measurements on intact Gulf of Mexico mudstone.
  2. Continue working with Nankai mudstone.
  3. Investigate material behavior questions as they relate to field observations.
  1. Modeling:
    1. Complete 3D Static Stress Modeling and 3D models of salt advance with user-defined models
    2.  Develop numerical model of thrust system behavior..
  2. Field Study:
Complete Analysis of thrust belt system.