Surface microdeformation monitoring is a fracture diagnostic technology that uses measurements of surface deformation morphology, on the micrometer scale, to geomechanically invert for dislocations and volumetric changes at reservoir depth. Surface microdeformation monitoring is a mature technology that has been successfully applied for more than two decades, using measurements from surface tiltmeter arrays. The conventional deliverables of this fracture-mapping technology have historically been limited to orientation (azimuth and dip) and the volumetric ratios of main fracture components.

This paper introduces a new technique for mapping and characterizing the areal distribution of the main fracture components using surface tiltmeter measurements. The areal distribution of main fracture components is additionally characterized with a hydraulic deformation index (HDI). HDI aids the identification of rock volumes having higher or lower volumetric fracture activity, and thus may provide additional insight into approximate fracture dimensions, productive stimulated reservoir area and where proppant could be located.

This paper describes the process of producing stimulated reservoir characterization (SRC) results with HDI using surface tiltmeter measurements. Synthetic data examples as well as SRC and HDI results derived by applying the new technique to a horizontal well hydraulic fracture stimulation project in the Viking sandstone formation are presented. The paper also includes comparison of SRC and HDI results with downhole microseismic results of the Viking sandstone project.

Surface microdeformation does not require an observation well. Once a precision surface tiltmeter array is installed, it can be used to diagnose multiple stages within the covered area. Hence, the new technique provides an economically viable fracture diagnostic solution for many unconventional reservoir stimulations, such as massive multistage horizontal well hydraulic fracture treatments.

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