Rocks are naturally fractured, and lack of knowledge of hydraulic fracture growth through the pre-existing discontinuities in rocks has impeded enhancing hydrocarbon extraction. This paper presents experimental results from uniaxial and biaxial tests, combined with numerical and analytical modelling results to develop a criterion for predicting whether a hydraulic fracture will cross a discontinuity, represented at the laboratory by unbonded machined frictional interfaces. The experimental results provide the first evidence for the impact of viscous fluid flow on the orthogonal fracture crossing. The fracture elliptical footprint also reflects the importance of both the applied loading stress and the viscosity in fracture propagation. The hydraulic fractures extend both in the direction of maximum compressive stress and in the direction with discontinuities that are arranged to be normal to the maximum compressive stress. The modelling results of fracture growth across discontinuities are obtained for the locations of slip starting points in initiating fracture crossing. Our analysis, in contrast to previous work on the prediction of frictional crossing, includes the non-singular stresses generated by the finite pressurised hydraulic fracture. Experimental and theoretical outcomes herein suggest that hydraulic fracture growth through an orthogonal discontinuity does not depend primarily on the interface friction coefficient.
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 6, 2017
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