The influence of pumping parameters in fluid-driven fractures in weak porous formations

Ernestos Sarris, Panos Papanastasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we investigate the main pumping parameters that influence a fluid-driven fracture in cohesive poroelastic and poroelastoplastic weak formations. These parameters include the fluid viscosity and the injection rate. The first parameter dominates in the mapping of the propagation regimes from toughness to viscosity, whereas the second parameter controls the storage to leak-off dominated regime through diffusion. The fracture is driven in weak permeable porous formation by injecting an incompressible viscous fluid at the fracture inlet assuming that the fracture propagates under plane strain conditions. Fluid flow in the fracture is modeled by lubrication theory. Pore fluid movement in the porous formation is based on the Darcy law. The coupling follows the Biot theory, whereas the irreversible rock deformation is modeled with the Mohr-Coulomb yield criterion with associative flow rule. Fracture propagation criterion is based on the cohesive zone approach. Leak-off is also considered. The investigation is performed numerically with the FEM to obtain the fracture opening, length, and propagation pressure versus time. We demonstrate that pumping parameters influence the fracture geometry and fluid pressures in weak formations through the viscous fluid flow and the diffusion process that create back stresses and large plastic zones as the fracture propagates. It is also shown that the product of the propagation velocity and fluid viscosity, μv that appears in the scaling controls the magnitude of the plastic zones and influences the net pressure and fracture geometry. These findings may explain partially the discrepancies in net pressures between field measurements and conventional model predictions for the case of weak porous formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-654
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2015


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


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