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Multi-Region Boundary Element Analysis for Coupled Thermal-Fracturing Processes in Geomaterials


This paper describes a boundary element code development on coupled thermal–mechanical processes of rock fracture propagation. The code development was based on the fracture mechanics code FRACOD that has previously been developed by Shen and Stephansson (Int J Eng Fracture Mech 47:177–189, 1993) and FRACOM (A fracture propagation code—FRACOD, User’s manual. FRACOM Ltd. 2002) and simulates complex fracture propagation in rocks governed by both tensile and shear mechanisms. For the coupled thermal-fracturing analysis, an indirect boundary element method, namely the fictitious heat source method, was implemented in FRACOD to simulate the temperature change and thermal stresses in rocks. This indirect method is particularly suitable for the thermal-fracturing coupling in FRACOD where the displacement discontinuity method is used for mechanical simulation. The coupled code was also extended to simulate multiple region problems in which rock mass, concrete linings and insulation layers with different thermal and mechanical properties were present. Both verification and application cases were presented where a point heat source in a 2D infinite medium and a pilot LNG underground cavern were solved and studied using the coupled code. Good agreement was observed between the simulation results, analytical solutions and in situ measurements which validates an applicability of the developed coupled code.

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This work is supported by CSIRO (Australia), Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM, Korea), SK Engineering and Constructions (Korea), Leibniz Institute for Applied Geosciences (Germany), FRACOM Ltd. (Finland) and Geomecon GmbH (Germany). KIGAM was fund by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy of Korea through the basic research project of GP2012-001, and TEKES of Finland partially funded the project through FRACOM. We would like to thank Mr. Jin-Moo Lee, Dr. Hee-Suk Lee, Dr. Seung-Cheol Lee, Dr. Tae Young Ko, and Ms. Jiyoun Kim in SKEC, Korea and Dr. Stefan Wessling and Dr. Ralf Junker in LIAG, Germany for their contributions to this study.

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Correspondence to Hyung-Mok Kim.

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Shen, B., Kim, HM., Park, ES. et al. Multi-Region Boundary Element Analysis for Coupled Thermal-Fracturing Processes in Geomaterials. Rock Mech Rock Eng 46, 135–151 (2013).

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  • Coupled thermal-fracturing processes
  • Fictitious heat source method
  • Boundary element method
  • Thermal stress
  • Multiple regions