Experimental Characterization and Modeling of the Fracturing Behavior of Marcellus Shale

Monday, 15 December 2014: 3:05 PM
Congrui Jin, Weixin Li, Bradley B Sageman and Gianluca Cusatis, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, United States
Adequate knowledge and prediction of mechanical properties of shale are pivotal to the design of hydraulic fractures. The urgent technical challenge of such an endeavor is how to translate the highly heterogeneous nature of shale into a predictive model of the mechanical properties. Our group addressed this challenge by adopting a combined experimental and numerical approach to investigate fracture processes and failure mechanisms of shale.

Lattice Discrete Particle Model (LDPM), having shown superior capabilities in predicting qualitative and quantitative behavior of concrete and concrete-like materials, as shown in Fig. 1, has been adopted to simulate mesoscale behavior of shale. The polyhedral cell system defining the geometric attributes of the rock microstructure is built via a 3D tessellation procedure based on X-ray microtomography results of microstructure and grain size distribution of shale specimens. The adopted tessellation procedure makes use of well-established packing algorithms for no-contact spherical particle placement and non-overlapping volume tessellation. The polyhedral particles interact through triangular facets where appropriate measure of stresses and strains are defined. Especially, LDPM is extended to simulate transversely isotropic materials by using orientation-dependent and strain-dependent strength limits coupled with orientation-dependent normal and shear stiffnesses on each facet. Appropriate interface constitutive equations are formulated to simulate all phenomena occurring at a scale that is smaller than the resolution of LDPM system, including microscopic fracture, frictional contact, particle breakage, pore collapse, and distributed damage. Bedding planes and natural joints are characterized by greatly decreased strength limits for facets within that region.

To calibrate/validate the LDPM model, microscopic and mesoscopic experiments, including Brazilian tests, uniaxial compression tests, and three point-bending tests, are conducted on grey shale and Marcellus black shale specimensto study their mechanical properties, as shown in Fig. 2.