Numerical modeling of fluid-driven fractures in cohesive poroelastoplastic continuum

E. Sarris, P. Papanastasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we investigate the main parameters that influence the propagation of a fluid-driven fracture in a poroelastoplastic continuum. These parameters include the cohesive zone, the stress anisotropy, and the pore pressure field. The fracture is driven in a permeable porous domain that corresponds to weak formation by pumping of an incompressible viscous fluid at the fracture inlet under plane strain conditions. Rock deformation is modeled with the Mohr-Coulomb yield criterion with associative flow rule. Fluid flow in the fracture is modeled by the lubrication theory. The movement of the pore fluid in the surrounding medium is assumed to obey the Darcy law and is of the same nature as the fracturing fluid. The cohesive zone approach is used as the fracture propagation criterion. The problem is modeled numerically with the finite element method to obtain the solution for the fracture length, the fracture opening, and the propagation pressure as a function of the time and distance from the pumping inlet. It is demonstrated that the plastic yielding that is associated with the rock dilation in an elastoplastic saturated porous continuum is significantly affected by the cohesive zone characteristics, the stress anisotropy, and the pore pressure field. These influences result in larger fracture profiles and propagation pressures due to the larger plastic zones that are developing during the fracture propagation. Furthermore, it is also found that the diffusion process that is a major mechanism in hydraulic fracture operations influences further the obtained results on the fracture dimensions, plastic yielding, and fluid pressures. These findings may explain partially the discrepancies in net pressures between field measurements and conventional model predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1822-1846
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2013


  • Cohesive zone
  • Finite elements
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Net pressures
  • Poroelastoplasticity


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