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Geophysicists in the petroleum industry have for the last half century focused almost solely on improving the quality of seismic reflection images in the quest for better geological interpretations. As such, Geophysicists gave little attention was given to rock physics and almost none to geomechanics. This situation has changed dramatically in the last few years with the rapid increase in hydraulic fracture simulations; geophysicists are now confronted with having to consider these topics and how geophysical data can be used to best advantage. A key aspect in all of this is knowing what the state of stress is in the earth as it is the most important factor controlling growth of fractures in the earth. In this talk I will overview the science and art of gleaning stress information from borehole and core measurements. Techniques mentioned include borehole imaging, minifracking, and sonic dipole-logging. I will give examples of our work on drilling projects in Antarctica to Northern Alberta and, if time allows, try to address some 'urban legends' associated with current practices. I will conclude with a discussion of our current project to update knowledge of the state of stress in the Western Canada Sedimentary basin called Stress Map 2.0.
Douglas Schmitt is the Canada Research Chair in Rock Physics and a Professor of Geophysics at the University of Alberta. He leads the Experimental Geophysics Group that carries out a unique blend of actual 'hands on' rock physics and mechanics research both in the field and in the laboratory. EGG had been or currently is active in international drilling projects on six continents often leading the logging and borehole seismic aspects of a project. A particularly noteworthy contribution was Dr. Schmitt's leadership of the international team that carried out the first suite of hydraulic fracturing stress measurements in Antarctica.
Before joining the University of Alberta (1989) he graduated from the University of Lethbridge in Physics (1980), worked as a Geophysicist at Texaco Canada (1980-81), completed his doctorate with parallel projects in high pressure mineral physics and geomechanics from Caltech (1987), and carried out borehole logging and hydraulic fracturing laboratory measurements while a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University (1987-88). He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Group for the International Continental Drilling Program, as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research, and as an Academic Examiner for the APEGA Board of Examiners. He recently completed a term as the Vice-Chair of the advisory Science and Technology Panel of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.