Summary

The Duvernay Formation is an unconventional reservoir characterized by induced seismicity and fluid migration, with natural fractures likely contributing to both cases. An alpine outcrop of the Perdrix and Flume formations, correlative with the subsurface Duvernay and Waterways formations, was investigated to characterize natural fracture networks. A semiautomated image-segmentation and fracture analysis was applied to orthomosaics generated from a photogrammetric survey to assess small- and large-scale fracture intensity and rock mass heterogeneity. The study also included manual scanlines, fracture windows, and Schmidt hammer measurements. The Perdrix section transitions from brittle fractures to en echelon fractures and shear-damage zones. Multiple scales of fractures were observed, including unconfined, bedbound fractures, and fold-relatedbed-parallel partings (BPPs). Variograms indicate a significant nugget effect along with fracture anisotropy. Schmidt hammer results lack correlation with fracture intensity. The Flume pavements exhibit a regionally extensive perpendicular joint set, tectonically driven fracturing, and multiple fault-damage zones with subvertical fractures dominating. Similar to the Perdrix, variograms show a significant nugget effect, highlighting fracture anisotropy. The results from this study suggest that small-scale fractures are inherently stochastic and that fractures observed at core scale should not be extrapolated to represent large-scale fracture systems; instead, the effects of small-scale fractures are best represented using an effective continuum approach. In contrast, large-scale fractures are more predictable according to structural setting and should be characterized robustly using geological principles. This study is especially applicable for operators and regulators in the Duvernay and similar formations where unconventional reservoir units abut carbonate formations.

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