Virtual MEchanics GAthering -MEGA- Seminar: Propagation of a plane-strain hydraulic fracture accounting for a rough cohesive zone
Abstract: The quasi-brittle nature of rocks challenges the basic assumptions of linear hydraulic fracture mechanics (LHFM): namely, linear elastic fracture mechanics and smooth parallel plates lubrication fluid flow inside the propagating fracture. We relax these hypotheses and investigate in details the growth of a plane-strain hydraulic fracture in an impermeable medium accounting for a rough cohesive zone and a fluid lag. In addition to a dimensionless toughness and the time-scale of coalescence of the fluid and fracture fronts governing the fracture evolution in the LHFM case, the solution now also depends on the ratio between the in-situ and material peak cohesive stress and the intensity of the flow deviation induced by aperture roughness (captured by a dimensionless power exponent). We show that the fracture growth is characterized with three distinct stages: a nucleation phase for the cohesive zone, an intermediate stage, and late time stage where convergence toward LHFM predictions finally occurs. A highly non-linear hydro-mechanical coupling takes place as the fluid front enters the rough cohesive zone which itself evolves during the nucleation and intermediate stages of growth. This coupling leads to significant additional viscous flow dissipation. As a result, the fracture evolution deviates from LHFM predictions with shorter fracture lengths, larger widths and net pressures. These deviations from LHFM ultimately decrease at late times as the ratios of the lag and cohesive zone sizes with the fracture length both become smaller. The deviations increase with larger dimensionless toughness and larger in-situ-to-cohesive stress ratio, as both have the effect of further localizing viscous dissipation near the fluid front located in the small rough cohesive zone. The impact of a rough cohesive zone appears to be prominent for laboratory experiments and short in-situ injections in quasi-brittle rocks with ultimately a larger energy demand compared to LHFM predictions.
Bio: Dong Liu got his master’s degree in civil engineering and material science for sustainable construction in Ecoles des Ponts in France and Tongji University in China in 2016. He then joined the Geo-energy laboratory (GEL) at EPFL as a Ph.D. candidate. His research interests include hydraulic fracturing, emplacement of magmatic dikes, and geophysics.
- General public
- MEGA.Seminar Organizing Committee