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AAPG Bulletin, Preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 1 October 2021.

Copyright © 2021. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


State of stress in areas of active unconventional oil and gas development in North America

Jens-Erik Lund Snee and Mark D. Zoback

Ahead of Print Abstract

In this paper, we present comprehensive data on stress orientation and relative magnitude in areas throughout North America where unconventional oil and gas are currently being developed. We find excellent agreement between maximum horizontal principal stress (SHmax) orientations over a wide range of depths, using multiple methods. In all basins studied, we observed coherent stress fields that in some cases vary systematically from one part of a basin to another. In the Appalachian Basin in the eastern USA, SHmax is oriented northeast–southwest to east-northeast–west-southwest and the style of Previous HitfaultingNext Hit is compressive, transitioning from reverse Previous HitfaultingNext Hit in eastern Pennsylvania and New York to principally strike-slip Previous HitfaultingNext Hit in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. In the midcontinent, central Oklahoma is characterized by an ~east–west SHmax direction and strike-slip Previous HitfaultingNext Hit. The Fort Worth Basin in northeastern Texas is characterized by normal–strike-slip Previous HitfaultingNext Hit and a north-northeast–south-southwest SHmax direction. In the Midland subbasin of western Texas, SHmax is consistently ~east–west and normal–strike-slip Previous HitfaultingNext Hit is observed. Further west, the Delaware subbasin of western Texas and southeastern New Mexico is characterized by normal Previous HitfaultingTop and SHmax rotates ~150º clockwise from north to south. Marked changes in SHmax direction also occur across the Raton Basin of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, the Denver-Julesburg Basin in northern Colorado, and the Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah, likely associated with their location near the margins of extensional provinces. The new datasets we present help improve operational efficiency by constraining absolute stress magnitudes and the ideal azimuth to drill horizontal wells (i.e., perpendicular to the local SHmax orientation) and make it possible to predict which fractures and faults are likely to be activated during hydraulic stimulation.

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Please cite this AAPG Bulletin Ahead of Print article as:

Jens-Erik Lund Snee, Mark D. Zoback: State of stress in areas of active unconventional oil and gas development in North America, (in press; preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 01 October 2021: AAPG Bulletin, DOI:10.1306/08102120151.