CO2 Injection-Induced Shearing and Fracturing in Naturally Fractured Conventional and Superhot Geothermal Environments

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This study elucidates the possibility of CO2 injection-induced formation of a complex cloud-fracture network (CFN) in granite, along with shearing (shear slip) of natural pre-existing fractures under conventional (~ 150–300 °C) and superhot (> ~ 400 °C) geothermal conditions, potentially providing additional connecting flow paths between the stimulated natural fractures. Here, we conduct a set of experiments under triaxial stress states at 150 °C and 450 °C on cylindrical granite samples containing a sawcut (representing a natural fracture) inclined 45° from the sample’s axis. CO2 injection induced dynamic shear slip on the sawcut, with higher slip velocities at 150 °C owing to the higher elasticity of the rock than that at 450 °C. The lower viscosity of CO2 also allowed it to more uniformly pressurize the sawcut, resulting in higher slip velocities and slip displacements compared with those based on water injection in the 150 °C experiments. This implies that under conventional geothermal conditions, CO2 injection can stimulate the same volume of rock as that of water injection at lower injection-well pressures. The CFNs then formed via CO2 injection at pressures similar to those predicted by the Griffith failure criterion as the sawcut shear slip progressed at both experimental temperatures. The experiments also revealed potential challenges associated with CO2 injection in naturally fractured geothermal environments, such as narrow aperture CFNs, owing to decreasing differential stress during their formation; all these factors should be addressed in future research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Carbon dioxide fracturing
  • Complex cloud-fracture network
  • Enhanced geothermal system
  • Natural fracture network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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