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Fracture permeability evolution and induced seismicity analysis by coupled modelling in enhanced geothermal systems

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  • Full or part time
    Dr G Quan
    Dr D Healy
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Deep geothermal reservoirs have been demonstrated to be a viable energy resource with low-carbon emission. However, due to their intrinsic characteristic of low permeability and porosity, the ability to routinely develop a long-lived, high-volume, and high-heat-transfer-area reservoirs is central to sustain the economical production of geothermal energy. Large populations of natural fractures are ubiquitously distributed in the target rocks. The loss of connection among natural fractures actually complicates and undermines the resulted stimulation and production by impeding fluid flow. Artificial fracturing technology will be an important approach in enhance the original formation conductivity by creating high permeable conduits. Meantime, hydraulic fracturing could connect the scattered natural fractures through crack nucleation, growth, and coalescence. Prediction of such response of fracture propagation is critical in optimizing stimulation and subsequent production results, the difficulties will be compounded by the main criterion for failure determining the propagation, which does not fully reflect the condition of in-situ stress and anisotropy.
This PhD project will employ the discontinuum theory to develop a coupled model, which could identify the principal influence controlling the direction of fracture propagation and predict the trajectory during the stimulation stage in geothermal reservoir. Based on the evolving stress drop within the reservoir, the induced seismicity evolution will be assessed. The developed coupled simulator FLAC3D-TOUGH will be used to assess the long term thermal energy production and provide optimization strategy, based on the fracture network pattern post stimulation. The student will obtain the state-of-the-art knowledge and skills in modelling the coupled process of hydraulic fracturing in the geothermal reservoir, with applications in the wider subsurface geological process.

Essential Background: Equivalent of 2.1 Honours Degree in Geophysics, Reservoir engineering, Geology

Knowledge of: theories about fluid flow and geomechanics (deformation and stress), geophysics (seismicity). It will be high desirable with background in programming in finite element and mathematics.

The other supervisor on the project is Dr E Gomez-Rivas (Uni of Aberdeen, Geology and Petroleum Geology)

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting There is NO funding attached to this project. You can find details of living costs and the like by visiting


This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of geology, petroleum engineering, and geophysics. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Geology, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Quan Gan ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.40

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