Boundary Element Method in a Self-Gravitating Elastic Half-Space and Its Application to Deformation Induced by Magma Chambers

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Ming Fang and Bradford H Hager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States
In geophysical applications the boundary element method (BEM) often carries the essential physics in addition to being an efficient numerical scheme. For use of the BEM in a self-gravitating uniform half-space, we made extra effort and succeeded in deriving the fundamental solution analytically in closed-form. A problem that goes deep into the heart of the classic BEM is encountered when we try to apply the new fundamental solution in BEM for deformation field induced by a magma chamber or a fluid-filled reservoir.

The central issue of the BEM is the singular integral arising from determination of the boundary values. A widely employed technique is to rescale the singular boundary point into a small finite volume and then shrink it to extract the limits. This operation boils down to the calculation of the so-called C-matrix. Authors in the past take the liberty of either adding or subtracting a small volume. By subtracting a small volume, the C-matrix is (1/2)I on a smooth surface, where I is the identity matrix; by adding a small volume, we arrive at the same C-matrix in the form of I – (1/2)I. This evenness is a result of the spherical symmetry of Kelvin’s fundamental solution employed. When the spherical symmetry is broken by gravity, the C-matrix is polarized. And we face the choice between right and wrong, for adding and subtracting a small volume yield different C-matrices. Close examination reveals that both derivations, addition and subtraction of a small volume, are ad hoc. To resolve the issue we revisit the Somigliana identity with a new derivation and careful step-by-step anatomy. The result proves that even though both adding and subtracting a small volume appear to twist the original boundary, only addition essentially modifies the original boundary and consequently modifies the physics of the original problem in a subtle way. The correct procedure is subtraction.

We complete a new BEM theory by introducing in full analytical form what we call the singular stress tensor for the fundamental solution. We partition the stress tensor of the fundamental solution into a singular part and a regular part. In this way all singular integrals systematically shift into the easy singular stress tensor. Applications of this new BEM to deformation and gravitational perturbation induced by magma chambers of finite volume will be presented.