When creating arrays of hydraulic fractures in close proximity, stress field changes induced by previously placed hydraulic fractures can lead to deflection in subsequent fracture paths and coalescence between fractures. Any fracture coalescence can compromise the effectiveness of the treatment array and the fracture geometry will not be appropriately accounted for in reservoir or caving models. Here we present the results of an experimental study consisting of arrays of 4 closely spaced hydraulic fractures grown sequentially in 350×350×350 mm blocks of a South Australian Gabbro under different initial stress states and for notched and un-notched wellbores. In particular we focus on insights gained from3-dimesional serial sectioning and digital reconstruction of the hydraulic fracture pat-terns that were formed. The results show that the curving hydraulic fractures typically do not exhibit a high degree of radial symmetry in their paths even though the fractures grewby radiating outward from a centrally located wellbore. The results also confirm model predictions that a subsequent fracture will curve towards a previous fracture when the minimum stress is zero and that this curving is suppressed when the minimum stress is sufficiently large. Finally, fracture initiation is shown to be critical to the symmetry of the fracture pattern and preponderance of branching and therefore effective notches that lead to initiation in the eventual plane of favored propagation have a profound impact on the hydraulic fracture geometry.

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