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Publication# Hydraulic Transport Through Calcite Bearing Faults With Customized Roughness: Effects of Normal and Shear Loading

Abstract

Understanding fluid flow in rough fractures is of high importance to large scale geologic processes and to most anthropogenic geo‐energy activities. Here we conducted fluid transport experiments on Carrara marble fractures with a novel customized surface topography. Transmissivity measurements were conducted under mechanical loading conditions representative of deep geothermal reservoirs (normal stresses from 20 to 70 MPa and shear stresses from 0 to 30 MPa). A numerical procedure simulating normal contact and fluid flow through fractures with complex geometries was validated toward experiments. Using it, we isolated the effects of roughness parameters on fracture fluid flow. Under normal loading, we find that (i) the transmissivity decreases with normal loading and is strongly dependent on fault surface geometry and (ii) the standard deviation of heights (hRMS) and macroscopic wavelength of the surface asperities control fracture transmissivity. Transmissivity evolution is nonmonotonic, with more than 4 orders of magnitude difference for small variations of macroscopic wavelength and hRMS roughness. Reversible elastic shear loading has little effect on transmissivity; it can increase or decrease depending on contact geometry and overall stress state on the fault. Irreversible shear displacement (up to 1 mm offset) slightly decreases transmissivity and its variation with irreversible shear displacements can be predicted numerically and geometrically at low normal stress only. Finally, irreversible changes in surface roughness (plasticity and wear) due to shear displacement result in a permanent decrease of transmissivity when decreasing differential stress. Generally, reduction of a carbonate fault's effective stress increases its transmissivity while inducing small shear displacements does not.

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Stress (mechanics)

In continuum mechanics, stress is a physical quantity that describes forces present during deformation. An object being pulled apart, such as a stretched elastic band, is subject to tensile stress and may undergo elongation. An object being pushed together, such as a crumpled sponge, is subject to compressive stress and may undergo shortening. The greater the force and the smaller the cross-sectional area of the body on which it acts, the greater the stress. Stress has units of force per area, such as newtons per square meter (N/m2) or pascal (Pa).

Cauchy stress tensor

In continuum mechanics, the Cauchy stress tensor , true stress tensor, or simply called the stress tensor is a second order tensor named after Augustin-Louis Cauchy. The tensor consists of nine components that completely define the state of stress at a point inside a material in the deformed state, placement, or configuration. The tensor relates a unit-length direction vector e to the traction vector T(e) across an imaginary surface perpendicular to e: or, The SI units of both stress tensor and traction vector are N/m2, corresponding to the stress scalar.

Shear stress

Shear stress (often denoted by τ (Greek: tau)) is the component of stress coplanar with a material cross section. It arises from the shear force, the component of force vector parallel to the material cross section. Normal stress, on the other hand, arises from the force vector component perpendicular to the material cross section on which it acts. The formula to calculate average shear stress is force per unit area.: where: τ = the shear stress; F = the force applied; A = the cross-sectional area of material with area parallel to the applied force vector.

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