Development of an Interactive Computer Program to Analyze the Effects of In-Situ Stress on Faults and Fractures

The 3DStress® program calculates slip tendency (top) and direction, dilation tendency (bottom), and leakage potential of faults and fractures, permitting two- and three-dimensional analyses of stress effects on faults and fractures.

 

 

 

For more information, contact:
Alan Morris, Ph.D.
(210) 522-6743
amorris@swri.org

Southwest
Research
Institute
Sponsor:  U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Principal Investigator:  Dr. David Ferrill

Program Brief

Statement of Problem: The client required an interactive computer program to analyze the effects of in situ stress on faults, fractures, and other interfaces within the Earth’s crust. Specifically, the program needed to analyze the tendencies for faults to slip, potentially producing earthquakes or ground ruptures, or for faults to open (dilate) and serve as fluid movement pathways.

Approach and Accomplishments: The 3DStress® computer program was developed to address this problem and puts interactive stress analysis on the desks of geoscientists and engineers for the first time. 3DStress is an innovative tool for analyzing stresses acting on faults and fractures in two or three dimensions. Fault slip produces earthquakes and related surface rupturing. Dilation of faults and fractures enhances their abilities to serve as pathways for hydrocarbon migration, groundwater flow, and magma intrusion. 3DStress calculates slip tendency, dilation tendency, and leakage potential of faults and fractures in any stress field in the Earth's crust, and allows for interactive manipulation of the stress tensor orientation, principal stress magnitudes, and fluid pressure. Within 3DStress, calculations are made for all fault and fracture orientations, which are simultaneously displayed using stereographic projections of fault or fracture planes, fault maps, and three-dimensional models of faults and fractures. 3DStress is designed to give users maximum flexibility to explore their data. 3DStress received an R&D 100 award, designating it as one of the world’s most technologically significant achievements of 1998.

Client Benefits: Using 3DStress, geoscientists can now quickly and interactively explore fault and fracture data in ways that were previously impossible. 3DStress has been used successfully to address a variety of problems related to nuclear waste disposal, seismic hazard assessment, and hydrocarbon exploration and production, including analyses of earthquake hazards, earthquake aftershocks, potential groundwater flow paths, magma ascent pathways, aquifer permeability fields, hydrocarbon trap integrity, hydrocarbon drilling hazards, and past stress fields and stress field evolution. The software can be run on Silicon Graphics and Sun computers.

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August 07, 2014