Physical property relationships of the Rotokawa Andesite, a significant geothermal reservoir rock in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand
Background Geothermal systems are commonly hosted in highly altered and fractured rock. As a result, the relationships between physical properties such as strength and permeability can be complex. Understanding such properties can assist in the optimal utilization of geothermal reservoirs. To resolve this issue, detailed laboratory studies on core samples from active geothermal reservoirs are required. This study details the results of the physical property investigations on Rotokawa Andesite which hosts a significant geothermal reservoir.
Methods We have characterized the microstructure (microfracture density), porosity, density, permeability, elastic wave velocities, and strength of core from the high-enthalpy Rotokawa Andesite geothermal reservoir under controlled laboratory conditions. We have built empirical relationships from our observations and also used a classical micromechanical model for brittle failure. Further, we compare our results to a Kozeny-Carman permeability model to better constrain the fluid flow behavior of the rocks.
Results We show that the strength, porosity, elastic moduli, and permeability are greatly influenced by pre-existing fracture occurrence within the andesite. Increasing porosity (or microfracture density) correlates well to a decreasing uniaxial compressive strength, increasing permeability, and a decreasing compressional wave velocity.
Conclusions Our results indicate that properties readily measurable by borehole geophysical logging (such as porosity and acoustic velocities) can be used to constrain more complex and pertinent properties such as strength and permeability. The relationships that we have provided can then be applied to further understand processes in the Rotokawa reservoir and other reservoirs worldwide.