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Giovanni Grasselli

Giovanni Grasselli

Civil Engineering
University of Toronto

Chair title

NSERC/Energi Simulation Industrial Research Chair in Fundamental Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2017


The NSERC/Energi Simulation Industrial Research Chair in Fundamental Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics will advance the fundamental science of rock physics and rock mechanics in the petrochemical industry. It will also contribute to the understanding and development of new technologies for unconventional petroleum production. These will be vital to the economic success of the Canadian oil and gas sector. This Chair program will advance the understanding of the role of existing and hydraulically-induced fractures and geological heterogeneities on the reservoir response under changing conditions associated with the various stages of development, from well completion, to stimulation, to production. The proposed research will lead to a step-change in the industry's capability to interpret seismic data and ultimately to use that data to calibrate and verify advanced multi-physics numerical models.

For example, correlating changes in elastic reservoir properties over time with local variation in gas pressure and fracturing geometries will help improve modelling to design more efficient recovery of unconventional gas reservoirs. It is expected that the application of these research findings will also provide industry with geomechanical insights and additional capabilities to interpret microseismic activity and may allow industry to evaluate the risk of inducing earthquakes during hydraulic fracturing operations.

The research program is highly relevant to the Canadian petrochemical industry and will be closely followed by Energi Simulation, its member companies, and the other supporting organizations, with the goal of translating research results into industrial applications. The IRC will provide a unique training environment for highly qualified personnel (HQP). It will also help partner organizations to optimize the safe and economical management of shale and tight oil and gas resources, through an improved understanding of the stimulation process and of the seismic signature associated with fluid migration within the reservoir. This understanding will result in an improved ability to (i) assess the performance of the oil recovery strategy adopted and (ii) localize highly economical over-pressurized gas pockets within the reservoir. The research findings will be incorporated into CMGL and Geomechanica numerical solutions and made accessible to all oil and gas operators using their software to evaluate hydraulics fracturing and reservoir production strategies.

Prof. Grasselli is a leader in experimental and computational rock mechanics and has made internationally recognized contributions to hybrid finite-discrete element (FDEM) modelling technology, rock fracture characterization, and geomaterials visualization using X-ray micro-CT technology. He is one of the only professors who has won the prestigious International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) Rocha Medal (2004) and supervised two Rocha Medal winners (2015 and 2017). Prof. Grasselli’s novel scientific developments, implemented within a finite-discrete element (FDEM) numerical framework, constitute a major scientific breakthrough as they provide a robust mechanistic approach to link the geomechanical processes associated with hydraulic fracturing in complex media with their seismic signature, and to reproduce the complex fracture geometries observed in field-scale experiments.


  • Energi Simulation
  • Geomechanica
  • CMGL

Contact information

Civil Engineering
University of Toronto


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