Accompanying global energy shortage and high energy prices, shale gas has been the focus of exploration and it has attracted great attention from both academia and industry. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing enables the extraction of huge quantities of shale gas from impermeable shale formations. During the process of hydraulic fracturing, great amounts of water, sand and chemicals must be injected into the shale formation at a high pressure, which may trigger seismicity. Such events could occur due to the presence of faults or the reactivation of these potential faults. Shale is the main component of source rock in the Sichuan Basin, China, and has the greatest contribution to the natural gas of the basin. In order to investigate the fracturing mechanism of shale in the Sichuan Basin, China, a series of rock fracture tests under triaxial compression were carried out in the laboratory in order to investigate the hydraulic fracturing behavior in relation to the seismicity. Based on the high multichannel waveform recording system, the detailed spatio-temporal distribution of acoustic emission due to micro-cracking was used to examine the deformation and fracture behavior of shale. In addition, the effects of confining pressure on the deformation and fracture in shale under triaxial compression by acoustic emission monitoring and X-ray computed tomography were discussed in the paper. The experimental results indicate that the shale samples demonstrate brittle fracture behavior. The confining pressure has a great effect on the complexity of the fracture planes and the spatial distribution of acoustic emissions, but few contributions to the location of the major hydraulic fracturing plane. The foliation of shale plays a dominant role in the rupture process and the geometry of the major hydraulic fracturing plane. The high confining pressure increases the strength and restrains the deformation of shale during compression process. These results shed some light on the understanding of onset of hydraulic fracture initiation not only for shale gas exploration and production, but also for CO2 geological storage and underground energy storage.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.