Shale gas and oil production has grown rapidly in recent years, and consequently there are increasing demands to understand the mechanical and microseismic properties of shale. Acoustic emission (AE) monitoring provides useful information on the fracture mechanisms of shale rocks, and provides a basis for interpreting field seismic observations. While there have been attempts for microseismic monitoring of conventional hydrocarbon reservoirs, shale presents a large number of issues that require further investigation. For this purpose, experiments were conducted to understand the characteristics of the AE waveforms propagated through Opalinus shale rock in the time and frequency domains. Frequency range, arrival time, first arrival amplitude and other parameters such as counts, duration and energy of the waves generated from artificial and natural sources in the shale specimens were detected and compared with AE characteristics of granite, a brittle rock that has been extensively investigated. The experimental tests showed that there are some important factors that influence the analyses and interpretations of seismic surveys and microseismic monitoring of shale compared to granite. One of these factors is the anisotropic behavior of shale that causes the wave to propagate with different velocities in different directions. Also bedding planes and micro-discontinuities in the shale cause attenuation of the waves. Thus the AE waveforms that arrive at the sensor are a distorted and attenuated versions of the source waveform.
Monitoring microseismic activity from hydraulic fracturing of shale provides vital information for mapping injection paths and fluid migration in order to check the effectiveness of the hydraulic fracture stimulation. Analysis of microseismic source locations can be used to identify fracture networks induced or mobilized during the hydraulic fracturing operation (Rotherd and Shapiro, 2003). On the other hand, by monitoring and assessing detected signals from hydraulic fracturing one can evaluate the induced seismic impact of the stimulation operation.
While there have been attempts to monitor microseismic events in conventional hydrocarbon reservoirs, shale presents a large number of issues that require further investigation. For this purpose, experiments were conducted on Opalinus shale to understand its acoustic emission (AE) characteristics in the time and frequency domains.