We perform detailed stability and convergence analyses of sequential-implicit solution methods for coupled fluid flow and reservoir geomechanics. We analyze four different sequential-implicit solution strategies, where each subproblem (flow and mechanics) is solved implicitly: two schemes in which the mechanical problem is solved first—namely, the drained and undrained splits—and two schemes in which the flow problem is solved first—namely, the fixed-strain and fixed-stress splits. The von Neumann method is used to obtain the linear-stability criteria of the four sequential schemes, and numerical simulations are used to test the validity and sharpness of these criteria for representative problems. The analysis indicates that the drained and fixed-strain splits, which are commonly used, are conditionally stable and that the stability limits depend only on the strength of coupling between flow and mechanics and are independent of the timestep size. Therefore, the drained and fixed-strain schemes cannot be used when the coupling between flow and mechanics is strong. Moreover, numerical solutions obtained using the drained and fixed-strain sequential schemes suffer from oscillations, even when the stability limit is honored. For problems where the deformation may be plastic (nonlinear) in nature, the drained and fixed-strain sequential schemes become unstable when the system enters the plastic regime. On the other hand, the undrained and fixed-stress sequential schemes are unconditionally stable regardless of the coupling strength, and they do not suffer from oscillations. While both the undrained and fixed-stress schemes are unconditionally stable, for the cases investigated we found that the fixed-stress split converges more rapidly than the undrained split. On the basis of these findings, we strongly recommend the fixed-stress sequential-implicit method for modeling coupled flow and geomechanics in reservoirs.

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