Hydro-fracturing is a common production enhancement technique used in unconventional reservoirs. However, an effective fracturing process requires a precise understanding of a formation’s in-situ strength behavior, which is mainly dependent on the formation’s in-situ stresses and fluid saturation. The aim of this study is to identify the effect of brine saturation (concentration and degree of saturation (DOS)) on the mechanical properties of one of the common unconventional reservoir rock types, siltstone. Most common type of non-destructive test: acoustic emission (AE) was used in conjunction with the destructive tests to investigate the rock properties. Unconfined compressive strength (UCS) and splitting tensile strength (STS) experiments were carried out for 78 varyingly saturated specimens utilizing ARAMIS (non-contact and material independent measuring system) and acoustic emission systems to determine the fracture propagation. According to the experimental results, the increase in degree of pore fluid saturation (NaCl ionic solution) causes siltstone’s compressive and tensile strengths to be reduced through weakening and breakage of the existing bonding between clay minerals. However, increasing NaCl concentration in the pore fluid generally enhances the compressive strength of siltstone through associated NaCl crystallization effect and actually reduces the tensile strength of siltstone through the corrosive influence of the NaCl ions. Moreover, results show that AE capture and analysis is one of the most effective methods to understand crack propagation behavior in rocks including the crack initiation, crack propagation, and final failure. The findings of this study are important for the identification of fluid saturation dependent in-situ strength conditions for successful hydro-fracturing in low permeable reservoirs.
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