The formation of open fractures in cohesive materials, results of scaled analogue and numerical modelling on fault zone porosity development
Structural Geology, Geomechanics and Tectonics, RWTH
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We compare analogue and numerical models of dilatational fractures at low confining stress. These structures form an effective conduit for fluid flow in the field, but are difficult to model since they form in cohesive materials at low stresses. We use a truly cohesive powder for the analogue models and a Discrete Element Model (DEM) with brittle-elastic bonds for the numerical modelling. We show that despite variations in the model type, small differences in the location of initial fractures and the way these structures link-up to control the evolution of the model, the observed structures are robust. Three structural zones develop where different fault types dominate. In 3D numerical models we show an increase of the porosity on the fault zone with increasing deformation. The progradation direction is shown to be controlled by the position of the fracture. The combination of analogue models with cohesive powder and DEMs with internal cohesion is an excellent tool to study the evolution of open fractures.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2010