Hydraulic Fracture Mapping & Monitoring

At ESG we believe in an integrated microseismic approach that takes into account engineering and geological information to create a more comprehensive understanding of stimulation effectiveness.  As an independent provider of complete microseismic mapping solutions for hydraulic fracturing, ESG provides a full suite of monitoring services from start-to-finish of any project.

ESG processed its first hydraulic fracture dataset in 1997, and launched its FRACMAP® services shortly after in 2000.  With over 15 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, ESG specializes in delivering microseismic solutions that help you:

  • Gain a better understanding of fracture behavior and stimulation effectiveness
  • Optimize fluid injection strategies and stage spacing
  • Evaluate frac barriers and monitor for out-of-zone events
  • Observe fault behavior and interaction
  • Assess stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) and stimulated surface area (SSA)
  • Describe discrete fracture networks
  • Calibrate reservoir models
  • Understand failure mechanisms
  • and more...

How Microseismic Fracture Mapping Works:

Hydraulic fracturing is a method used to increase the production of oil or natural gas from a reservoir.  In many unconventional formations, the oil or gas is trapped within low porosity or permeability rock such as shale or tight sands.  Hydraulic fracturing uses high pressure fluid (i.e. water) and a proppant (i.e. sand or ceramics) to create fractures in the rock and prop them open, enabling the trapped oil or gas to flow towards the production well. 

Microseismic monitoring is increasingly accepted as the best method to observe and track the creation of fractures in a reservoir. 

By locating microseismic events associated with fracture generation, it is possible to better understand and estimate fracture geometry and effective production volume for input into fracture, reservoir and geomechanical models.  Real-time monitoring provides an opportunity to mitigate risks associated with geohazards, observe interactions with nearby faults and monitor for events locating out of zone. 

Microseismic activity is measured using arrays of geophones positioned in nearby observation well(s) and/or using an array of surface sensors.

Innovative Downhole Acquisition

Detect hydraulic fracture-induced seismicity with ESG's wireline monitoring options.

ESG provides downhole and surface-based data acquisition services for hydraulic fracture operations.  For downhole operations, ESG uses industry standard OYO Geospace tools to acquire the highest quality microseismic data.

Microseismic data acquisition for hydraulic fracture operations is achieved through the deployment of geophone arrays in adjacent production wells or dedicated observation wells using truck-mounted wireline units.  Sensors may be placed in vertical and/or horizontal segments of the observation well.  Our fleet of wireline trucks and tools are ready to deploy to hydraulic fracture sites throughout North America and our operations team specializes in innovative deployments that help clients capture the most value from their microseismic program.  ESG pairs wireline microseismic data acquisition with real-time microseismic data processing and post-acquisition interpretation and reporting for a complete solution. 

Whip-Array® Downhole Deployment

ESG's unique Whip-array® sensor configuration implements two separate monitoring arrays within the same lateral well, with one toolstring deployed in the vertical section of the well and a second toolstring positioned in the horizontal section of the same well.

The Whip-array® combines two separate geophone arrays into one unique array that can be deployed simultaneously in the horizontal and vertical sections of a monitoring well. A tractoring system is used to install the array, and also re-position the horizontal leg of the array periodically during the treatment program to follow the completion from toe to heel. Each array in the Whip-array® is time-synchronized to ensure the accurate event location of events detected on both arrays.

The Whip-array® enables greater coverage of a treatment well and opens the door to advanced analysis techniques such as seismic moment tensor inversion (SMTI) which require seismic data to be acquired on multiple arrays. 


ESG's SuperCable™ microseismic acquisition system is designed to provide longer-term downhole acquisition at lower cost than traditional wireline-based acquisition equipment.

Currently, wireline deployment is the accepted method for temporary downhole microseismic monitoring.  Unfortunately, conventional wireline tools are typically not designed for extended deployment periods and as a result, the equipment becomes too costly over longer durations.

For long-term reservoir monitoring, many operators choose to deploy permanent systems, for which ESG has manufactured and installed proprietary instrumentation for over 15 years.  The SuperCable™ represents an innovative monitoring solution that offers the flexibility of temporary wireline deployment, with the performance and cost benefit of long-term monitoring systems. 

The method is ideal for monitoring projects spanning a few months to a year, including large multi-well frac programs, waste injection, gas storage and thermal recovery operations.  

Spectraseis Surface Monitoring

Spectraseis, an ESG managed company, offers microseismic acquisition and accurate in-field analysis of fracture data from high-sensitivity surface-based instruments deployed in wireless configurations over a lateral well.  The result is high quality data you can depend on to answer the key questions driving well completion decisions.

Download the brochure: Surface-based Hydraulic Fracture Monitoring 

TRI Elastic Data Processing

Spectraseis, an ESG managed company, uses its patented Time-Reverse Imaging (TRI) method to deliver rich fracture characterization and improved reliability, eliminating the assumptions and simplifications of ray-based techniques through full elastic migration of microseismic data.

  • Robust, data-driven workflow mitigates acquisition artifacts, noise contamination, and false positives
  • Reduces processor bias and improves efficiency
  • Delivers a confidence estimate for each imaged event
  • Allows direct retrieval of the fracture moment tensor
  • Provides an understanding of fracture direction and connectivity

Spectraseis accelerates full elastic wave-equation imaging with proprietary algorithms and techniques to get the most out of NVIDIA’s latest Fermi GPUs.

Full wave 3-Component Recordings

The results of any geoscience data analysis are only as good as the quality and integrity of the recorded data set. Capturing the most complete wavefield in time, space and frequency maximizes the value of microseismic monitoring data.

Single component data recordings delivered by conventional reflection seismic recording systems ignore a large portion of the information radiated by microseismic events. The S-waves triggered by microseismic events are often the strongest signals recorded in microseismic data. They are normally observed on the horizontal components of a 3-component (3-C) receiver and are weak or completely absent on the vertical component.

Assuming a Vp/Vs ratio of 2, the maximum energy of an S-wave phase (SH or SV) radiated by a shear event is 8 times larger than the maximum amplitude of the associated P-wave (Aki and Richards 2002), but a single component system probably won’t record it.

A standard requirement in borehole microseismic and VSP applications, 3-C recording is essential in surface microseismic surveys because only 3-C data embodies the full three-dimensional wavefield, allowing for richer fracture characterization and post- frac reservoir fluid system evaluation.  Spectraseis, an ESG-managed company, is the only surface-based frac monitoring provider that effectively captures and processes 3-C data for microseismic monitoring.

Stimulation Evaluation

Spectraseis helps improve the productivity of stimulation programs by using integrated surface and borehole data acquisition and elastic wave-equation event imaging to deliver accurate and reliable fracture information.

Use accurate microseismic analysis to better understand and optimize key fracture parameters, such as:

  • Well layout and azimuth
  • Well spacing
  • Stage lengths
  • Interval containment
  • Fracture half-lengths
  • Fracture density
  • Fracture network characterization
  • Fracture failure mode
  • Response to local and modified stress regime
  • Interaction with in-situ faulting
  • Effective stimulated reservoir volume
  • Stage interactivity
  • Stimulation design

By applying visco-elastic forward modeling of acquisition geometries, including fracture source parameters and propagation effects, Spectraseis determines the most effective survey design to answer the key questions driving well completion decisions.

Survey Design for Broadband 3-C Surface Acquisition

Optimizing array geometries is one of the most powerful ways to improve data quality and increase the value of microseismic data to the interpreter.

Our main goal in developing the survey geometry is to get the operator the best possible dataset within their budgetary parameters and ensure that the program goals will be met. We will deploy whatever tools are needed to optimize the results.

Spectraseis uses forward modeling to design the optimal acquisition geometry prior to field work to incorporate the objectives of the program into the local setting.

Our three-component, broadband nodes record the complete ground motion from 0.1-1000 Hz with ultra-high sensitivity and low noise floor performance 100x greater than leading conventional geophones.  The broad bandwidth and low noise floor captures more microseismic events at a greater distance than standard geophones, enabling more accurate fracture description.

Our surface acquisition systems use low impact wireless recording technologies and are safe and easy to permit, even in sensitive environments. 

Hybrid™ Integrated Downhole and Near-Surface Monitoring

ESG’s patented Hybrid™ Seismic Network combines the superior performance of downhole geophone arrays for small magnitude, high frequency events with near-surface sensors optimized for the low frequency, longer period waves of large magnitude events.  This combination results in broadband detection of seismic events from M-4 to M+4 in one comprehensive system.

In many cases, ESG has found evidence that the source characteristics of larger seismic events (such as magnitude, source radius etc.) may be underestimated when recorded using 15 Hz geophones.  This phenomenon is known as magnitude saturation.  The low frequency components of larger magnitude events are not accurately captured by 15 Hz geophones.  To solve this problem, ESG began introducing lower frequency sensors such as 4.5 Hz geophones and Force Balanced Accelerometers (FBAs) into monitoring arrays to effectively extend the monitoring range to account for lower frequencies. 

In most cases, these lower frequency sensors are introduced within a near-surface array.  ESG's Hybrid™ seismic monitoring system effectively captures the benefits of both downhole and near-surface systems.

How it works

Downhole arrays are designed and deployed to monitor a hydraulic fracture program in the same manner as strictly downhole programs.  However, the Hybrid method uses an additional surface-based network designed to capture seismic data for larger magnitude events.  All data captured on the downhole and surface arrays are 100% time synchronized and combined into one master event database using ESG's proprietary Hyperion Software Suite.  All events are processed using a first-arrival method.

Larger magnitude events detected by the near-surface array specifically processed using the near-surface data to ensure that source parameters are accurately characterized.  On average, ESG has found that true event magnitudes for larger events end up being one order of magnitude higher than originally characterized using a standard microseismic system.  For this reason, ESG recommends its Hybrid™ seismic monitoring system to all clients to ensure that they receive the most accurate results possible.

Real-time Analysis

See fractures as they are created with real-time processing of microseismic data.

ESG combines its expertise in microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fractures with engineering interpretation and consulting services for completions engineers. Using real-time microseismic and engineering data, ESG can help you optimize your fracture process.

  • ESG’s real-time microseismic monitoring services provide you with up-to-the-minute mappings of event locations during each stage of your fracture.  Knowing the fracture dimensions and geometry as you are performing your stimulation means that engineers can make decisions on-the-fly to modify the stimulation program to optimize production and decrease costs.
  • Real-time microseismic monitoring is also useful for fracture stimulations if you are worried about fracing out of zone.  ESG can accurately identify the location of events in relation to geological structures to ensure that fracture stimulation activities target only the desired reservoir.
  • Real-time microseismic monitoring can also identify casing failures when they occur, so that you do not wastefully pump frac fluid into the wrong area, or risk contaminating sensitive formations.

Enhanced Reservoir Characterization (ERC)

Enhanced Reservoir Characterization (ERC) is the culmination of nearly a decade of R&D focused on advanced microseismic analysis in unconventional reservoirs.  Fundamentally, ERC aims to characterize reservoir deformation as flow through the reservoir, to understand factors like stress state, fracture complexity, and ease of reservoir deformability, and ultimately link this information to the potential for production.

Historically, microseismic monitoring has focused on the evaluation of discrete seismic event locations as an indicator of successful reservoir stimulation. While an individual microseismic event corresponds to slip on a discrete surface, the combined deformation of a group of events results in a collective behavior.  Taking a new statistical approach microseismic analysis that focuses on the collective behavior of clusters of seismicity, ESG has developed a unique new offering to help operators better understand reservoir processes, optimize completions and improve production from unconventional reservoirs. 

ERC evaluates reservoir behavior using two primary tools: ESG’s Seismic Moment Tensor Inversion (SMTI) Production Suite™ and the Flow Dynamics Suite™ (using identified Dynamic Parameters).

SMTI Production Suite™

SMTI analysis uses high quality multi-array microseismic data to describe the mechanism and orientation of failure for each microseismic event.  Using this information we assess fracture network development, the role of pre-existing fractures and bedding plane slip and permeability enhancement and identify likely fluid flow pathways to assist in decline curve estimation.

Flow Dynamics Suite™

ESG has identified a suite of dynamic parameters that combine source characteristics of microseismic events with event timing and spatial distribution to characterize, map and study the collective behavior of seismicity in a reservoir.  Examples of these dynamic parameters include Diffusion Index (direction and rate of seismic activity and associated stress transfer), Fracability Index (susceptibility of a rock mass to fracturing), Stress Index (where seismic flow is hindered by fracture complexity) and Plasticity Index (ease with which the reservoir deforms).

With these tools, it is possible to estimate an effective stimulated reservoir volume and generate new inputs for geomechanical and reservoir models.  The information also helps optimize completions; particularly focusing on wellbore placement, fracture containment, stage spacing and perforation design.

2nd Look™ Reprocessing

Get a second opinion on microseismic data that was processed by another vendor.

2nd Look™ reprocessing gives you the confidence that your microseismic data has been processed accurately. Whether you are suspicious of a low number of events recorded, or if your microseismic results do not appear to coincide with your production results, ESG can take data recorded and processed by another vendor and re-process it with the help of our advanced techniques and knowledgeable staff.

  • All software and analytical techniques used to process your microseismic data were developed in-house and are based on over 25 years of research in microseismic science.
  • Interpretation of microseismic results are performed by a team of highly-trained seismologists and microseismic experts.
  • As the acknowledged leaders in microseismic data processing, imaging and interpretation, ESG personnel apply an extended range of unique, specialized analytical tools and techniques to your data, giving you a superior second opinion of your data set.

Microseismic Interactive Data Archive System

Spectraseis’ hosted data archival solution changes the lifespan of expensive microseismic field data and results, from static displays and mountains of continuous data to an interactive intuitively organized archive.

All that is needed to run MIDAS is a common web browser and any internet-capable device, and years of investment are back at your fingertips with a renewed vitality and additional value.

Data types may include borehole, shallow borehole, surface, and/or combinations, as well as permanent monitoring data or regional data accumulations.

Not only are results and data organized and accessible, but also powerful analytics are instantly calculated, allowing the user to continue interpretation of the data, and performing basic quality control on the processed results.

Download the brochure: Microseismic Interactive Data Archive System (MIDAS)

Project Experience

See where ESG and Spectraseis have acquired and processed microseismic hydraulic fracture data over the past 15 years.

Through involvement with members of the Cotton Valley Consortium, ESG processed its first microseismic data set to evaluate hydraulic fracture stimulations in 1997. Shortly after, in 2000, ESG launched FRACMAP®, the world’s first commercial fracture mapping service through work with Mitchell Energy (Now Devon) for operations in the Barnett Shale.

Founded in 2003, Spectraseis originally provided passive seismic services for reservoir exploration applications and entered the surface frac monitoring market in 2011.  Since then, they have provided surface hydraulic fracture monitoring and Seismicity Monitoring throughout North and South America.

ESG and Spectraseis have had the opportunity to work with many different clients for fracture monitoring in a number of different resource types to deliver a full fracture-monitoring solutions in all of the major shale gas plays in North America including:

  • Austin Chalk, TX
  • Barnett Shale, TX
  • Bakken Formation, ND/SK
  • Bossier Sands, TX/LA
  • Cadomin Formation, AB/BC
  • Cardium Formation, AB
  • Cotton Valley, TX
  • Duvernay Formation, AB
  • Doig Formation, AB/BC
  • Eagle Ford Shale, TX
  • Fayetteville Shale, AR
  • Granite Wash, TX
  • Haynesville Shale, LA/TX
  • Horn River Basin, BC
  • Marcellus Shale, PA
  • Mississippi Lime Formation, OK
  • Monterey Shale, CA
  • Montney Shale, AB/BC
  • Niobrara Formation, CO
  • Permian Basin (Avalon Shale, Bone Spring, Cline, Spraberry, Wolfcamp), TX/NM
  • Pimienta Formation, Mexico
  • Pinceance Basin, CO
  • Powder River Basin, WY
  • Shaunovan/Lower Shaunovan, SK
  • Utica Shale, OH
  • Woodbine/Eaglebine, TX
  • Woodford Shale, OK
  • Viking Formation, AB/SK

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