Uncertainty analysis of thermo-hydro-mechanical coupled processes in heterogeneous porous media

Norihiro Watanabe, Wenqing Wang, Christopher I. McDermott, Takeo Taniguchi, Olaf Kolditz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we present an uncertainty analysis of thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) coupled processes in a typical geothermal reservoir in crystalline rock. Fracture and matrix are treated conceptually as an equivalent porous medium, and the model is applied to available data from the Urach Spa and Falkenberg sites (Germany). The finite element method (FEM) is used for the numerical analysis of fully coupled THM processes, including thermal water flow, advective-diffusive heat transport, and thermoelasticity. Non-linearity in system behavior is introduced via temperature and pressure dependent fluid properties. Reservoir parameters are considered as spatially random variables and their realizations are generated using conditional Gaussian simulation. The related Monte-Carlo analysis of the coupled THM problem is computationally very expensive. To enhance computational efficiency, the parallel FEM based on domain decomposition technology usingmessage passing interface (MPI) is utilized to conduct the numerous simulations. In the numerical analysis we considered two reservoir modes: undisturbed and stimulated. The uncertainty analysis we apply captures both the effects of heterogeneity and hydraulic stimulation near the injection borehole. The results showthe influence of parameter ranges on reservoir evolution during long-term heat extraction, taking into account fully coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical processes.We found that the most significant factors in the analysis are permeability and heat capacity. The study demonstrates the importance of taking parameter uncertainties into account for geothermal reservoir evaluation in order to assess the viability of numerical modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-280
Number of pages18
JournalComputational Mechanics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Geothermal reservoir analysis
  • Monte-Carlo simulation
  • Sequential Gaussian simulation
  • Thermo-hydro- mechanical (THM) coupled processes
  • Uncertainty assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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