Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


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Graduate Seminar Speaker Dr. Mark Zoback


Monday, April 20, 2015


03:00pm - 04:00pm


CPE 2.204


Dr. Mark D. Zoback, Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University, will give a talk entitled "The Rocks Matter: Optimizing Production from Unconventional Reservoirs" as part of the Claude R. Hocott Graduate Seminar Series. 


Dr. Mark D. Zoback is the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative.  Dr. Zoback conducts research on in situ stress, fault mechanics, and reservoir geomechanics with an emphasis on shale gas, tight gas and tight oil production.  He currently directs the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative and is co-director of the Stanford Center on Induced and Triggered Seismicity and the Stanford Center for Carbon Storage. Dr. Zoback was one of the principal investigators of the SAFOD project in which a scientific research well was successfully drilled through the San Andreas Fault at seismogenic depth.  He is the author of a textbook entitled Reservoir Geomechanics published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press, now in its 11th printing.  He is the author/co-author of over 300 technical papers and holds five patents. Dr. Zoback was the principal founder of GeoMechanics International and is now a Senior Executive Adviser for Baker Hughes. Dr. Zoback has received a number of awards and honors, including the 2006 Emil Wiechert Medal of the German Geophysical Society and the 2008 Walter H. Bucher Medal of the American Geophysical Union.  In 2011, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and in 2012 elected to Honorary Membership in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.  He is the 2013 recipient of the Louis Néel Medal, European Geosciences Union and named an Einstein Chair Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2015 he will receive the Robert R. Berg Outstanding Research Award of the AAPG. He recently served on the National Academy of Engineering committee investigating the Deepwater Horizon accident and the Secretary of Energy’s committee on shale gas development and environmental protection. He also advised a Canadian Council of Academies panel investigating the same topic. Dr. Zoback also recently served on the National Academy of Sciences Advisory Board on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.


In this talk, I present the results of several research projects investigating how rock properties, natural fractures and the state of stress affect the success of hydraulic fracturing operations during stimulation of shale gas and tight oil reservoirs. First, through laboratory measurements on samples of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Horn River shales, I discuss pore structure and permeability as well as the impact of clay content on the viscoplastic behavior of shale formations. Second, I present several lines of evidence that indicates that one important way in which hydraulic fracturing stimulates production from shale gas reservoirs is by inducing slow slip on pre-existing fractures and faults, a process which is not detected by conventional microseismic monitoring. Finally, I discuss how hydraulic fracturing operations can be optimized in response to variations of rock properties in the context of the studies discussed above.