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Influences of hydraulic fracturing on fluid flow and mineralization at the vein-type tungsten deposits in Southern China

Published on Jan 1, 2017in Geofluids1.437
· DOI :10.1155/2017/4673421
Xiangchong Liu4
Estimated H-index: 4
,
Huilin Xing17
Estimated H-index: 17
(UQ: University of Queensland),
Dehui Zhang9
Estimated H-index: 9
(China University of Geosciences)
Abstract
Wolframite is the main ore mineral at the vein-type tungsten deposits in the Nanling Range, which is a world-class tungsten province. It is disputed how wolframite is precipitated at these deposits and no one has yet studied the links of the mechanical processes to fluid flow and mineralization. Finite element-based numerical experiments are used to investigate the influences of a hydraulic fracturing process on fluid flow and solubility of CO2 and quartz. The fluids are aqueous NaCl solutions and fluid pressure is the only variable controlling solubility of CO2 and quartz in the numerical experiments. Significant fluctuations of fluid pressure and high-velocity hydrothermal pulse are found once rock is fractured by high-pressure fluids. The fluid pressure drop induced by hydraulic fracturing could cause a 9% decrease of quartz solubility. This amount of quartz deposition may not cause a significant decrease in rock permeability. The fluid pressure decrease after hydraulic fracturing also reduces solubility of CO2 by 36% and increases pH. Because an increase in pH would cause a major decrease in solubility of tungsten, the fluid pressure drop accompanying a hydraulic fracturing process facilitates wolframite precipitation. Our numerical experiments provide insight into the mechanisms precipitating wolframite at the tungsten deposits in the Nanling Range as well as other metals whose solubility is strongly dependent on pH.
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