Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 50, Issue 10, pp 2763–2783 | Cite as

Modelling of the CO2-Induced Degradation of a Fractured Caprock During Leakage: Potential for a Mechanical Self-Limiting Process

  • J. Rohmer
  • J. Tremosa
  • N. C. M. Marty
  • P. Audigane
Original Paper


In the present study, we assess the potential for initiating ductile failure in a fractured caprock due to the chemical alteration of its mechanical properties under pressure increase induced by CO2 leakage and fixed in situ boundary conditions. In this view, 2D numerically coupled reactive-transport simulations were set up by using the Opalinus Clay formation as an analogue for a caprock layer. The fractured system was viewed as a compartmentalised system that consists of a main highly permeable pathway, a moderately permeable damage zone and the intact rock. The outputs of the numerical simulations (mineral fraction, porosity changes, gas saturation, pore-fluid pressure) were converted into parameter changes of the yield surface by viewing the rock material of the three compartments (fault, damage zone and intact rock) as a composite system that consists of a clayey solid material, pores and mineral inclusions (such as carbonate and quartz). Three alteration processes were considered: (1) the effect of the mineral fraction and porosity evolution on the yield surface, (2) changes in the resulting poro-elastic properties and (3) the suction effect, i.e. the bounding effect induced by the presence of two phases, water and CO2. Our numerical investigations showed that the decrease in the friction coefficient remained negligible during leakage, while the pre-consolidation stress mainly decreased. Consequently, the damage zone of the fractured system became more collapsible over time, which was driven by low-to-moderate pressure build-up of the fluid penetrating the fault (1 MPa in our case). For the considered case, the initiation of ductile failure is likely under conditions of fixed vertical stress and zero lateral strain. This process could potentially limit the spatial spreading of CO2-induced alteration, although this remains very site specific. We recommend that characterisation efforts be intensified to obtain better insight into the properties of fracture systems in caprock-like formations (with special attention to their initial over consolidation ratio).


CO2 invasion Chemical transport simulations Weakening Critical state model Pore collapse 



The research that led to these results has been conducted in the framework of the ULTIMATE-CO2 Project, which was funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program [FP7/2007-2013] under Grant Agreement No 281196. We thank S. Gaboreau (BRGM) for providing the SEM micrographs in Fig. 2. We are also grateful to Fabrizio Gherardi (CNR-IGG) for sharing the TOUGHREACT input data, which formed the basis for the present model. We also thank both anonymous reviewers whose comments led to the improvement of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Rohmer
    • 1
  • J. Tremosa
    • 1
  • N. C. M. Marty
    • 1
  • P. Audigane
    • 1
  1. 1.BRGMOrléans Cedex 2France

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