Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 170, Issue 11, pp 1685–1703

Dynamic Development of Hydrofracture

  • Irfan Ghani
  • Daniel Koehn
  • Renaud Toussaint
  • Cees Willem Passchier
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00024-012-0637-7

Cite this article as:
Ghani, I., Koehn, D., Toussaint, R. et al. Pure Appl. Geophys. (2013) 170: 1685. doi:10.1007/s00024-012-0637-7

Abstract

Many natural examples of complex joint and vein networks in layered sedimentary rocks are hydrofractures that form by a combination of pore fluid overpressure and tectonic stresses. In this paper, a two-dimensional hybrid hydro-mechanical formulation is proposed to model the dynamic development of natural hydrofractures. The numerical scheme combines a discrete element model (DEM) framework that represents a porous solid medium with a supplementary Darcy based pore-pressure diffusion as continuum description for the fluid. This combination yields a porosity controlled coupling between an evolving fracture network and the associated hydraulic field. The model is tested on some basic cases of hydro-driven fracturing commonly found in nature, e.g., fracturing due to local fluid overpressure in rocks subjected to hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic tectonic loadings. In our models we find that seepage forces created by hydraulic pressure gradients together with poroelastic feedback upon discrete fracturing play a significant role in subsurface rock deformation. These forces manipulate the growth and geometry of hydrofractures in addition to tectonic stresses and the mechanical properties of the porous rocks. Our results show characteristic failure patterns that reflect different tectonic and lithological conditions and are qualitatively consistent with existing analogue and numerical studies as well as field observations. The applied scheme is numerically efficient, can be applied at various scales and is computational cost effective with the least involvement of sophisticated mathematical computation of hydrodynamic flow between the solid grains.

Keywords

DEMhydrofracturefluid–solid dynamicspore pressure gradientpattern formation

Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irfan Ghani
    • 1
  • Daniel Koehn
    • 2
  • Renaud Toussaint
    • 3
    • 4
  • Cees Willem Passchier
    • 1
  1. 1.Tektonophysik, Institut für Geoswissenschaften, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  3. 3.Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg, UMR 7516, Université de Strasbourg/EOST, CNRSStrasbourg CedexFrance
  4. 4.Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and LettersOsloNorway