DEM Modeling of Interaction Between the Propagating Fracture and Multiple Pre-existing Cemented Discontinuities in Shale

  • Zhina Liu
  • Haoran Xu
  • Zhihong ZhaoEmail author
  • Zhaowei Chen
Technical Note


It is known that pre-existing discontinuities can act as planes of weakness that divert the propagating fractures in rocks, but previous studies have mostly focused on the interaction between the propagating fractures and a single pre-existing discontinuity. The influences of multiple pre-existing cemented discontinuities, such as calcite veins and bedding planes, on the fracture propagation still remain poorly understood. In this study, particle-based discrete element method was used to characterize the fracturing behavior of shale containing multiple cemented veins and bedding planes through numerical semi-circular bend (SCB) tests. Model results show that geometrical and mechanical properties of multiple pre-existing cemented discontinuities can significantly affect the interaction modes between the induced tensile fractures and pre-existing cemented discontinuities, as well as the mode I fracture toughness of shale. The typical mechanical interaction modes between the induced tensile fractures and the multiple pre-existing cemented discontinuities and the corresponding conditions are given. The effect of pre-coexisting discontinuities on the peak loads for shale during SCB tests is also discussed.


DEM Shale Pre-existing cemented discontinuities Semi-circular bend tests 



Z.L. and H.X. are financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41502190) and Science Foundation of China University of Petroleum, Beijing (No. 2462014YJRC055). Z.Z. is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51509138 and No. 51779123).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhina Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Haoran Xu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zhihong Zhao
    • 3
    Email author
  • Zhaowei Chen
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Lab of Petroleum Resources and ProspectingChina University of PetroleumBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of GeologyChina University of PetroleumBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.CNPC Engineering Technology R&D Company LimitedBeijingChina

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