Geometry of elastic hydrofracturing by injection of an over pressured non-Newtonian Fluid

Research paper by Mariano Cerca, Jazmin Chavez Alvarez, Bernardino Barrientos, Enrique Soto, Carlos Mares

Indexed on: 19 Oct '09Published on: 19 Oct '09Published in: Physics - Fluid Dynamics


The nucleation and propagation of hydrofractures by injection of over pressured fluids in an elastic and isotropic medium are studied experimentally. Non-Newtonian fluids are injected inside a gelatine whose mechanical properties are assumed isotropic at the experimental strain rates. Linear elastic theory predicts that plastic deformation associated to breakage of gelatin bonds is limited to a small zone ahead of the tip of the propagating fracture and that propagation will be maintained while the fluid pressure exceeds the normal stress to the fracture walls (Ch\'avez-\'Alvarez,2008) (i.e., the minimum compressive stress), resulting in a single mode I fracture geometry. However, we observed the propagation of fractures type II and III as well as nucleation of secondary fractures, with oblique to perpendicular trajectories with respect to the initial fracture. In the Video (http://hdl.handle.net/1813/14122) experimental evidence shows that the fracture shape depends on the viscoelastic properties of gelatine coupled with the strain rate achieved by fracture propagation.