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Research Papers

The Tip Region of a Near-Surface Hydraulic Fracture

[+] Author and Article Information
Zhi-Qiao Wang

School of Engineering and Technology,
China University of Geosciences,
Beijing 100086, China

Emmanuel Detournay

Department of Civil, Environmental, and
Geo-Engineering,
University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis, MN 55455
e-mail: detou001@umn.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received January 8, 2018; final manuscript received January 10, 2018; published online February 15, 2018. Editor: Yonggang Huang.

J. Appl. Mech 85(4), 041010 (Feb 15, 2018) (11 pages) Paper No: JAM-18-1014; doi: 10.1115/1.4039044 History: Received January 08, 2018; Revised January 10, 2018

This paper investigates the tip region of a hydraulic fracture propagating near a free-surface via the related problem of the steady fluid-driven peeling of a thin elastic layer from a rigid substrate. The solution of this problem requires accounting for the existence of a fluid lag, as the pressure singularity that would otherwise exist at the crack tip is incompatible with the underlying linear beam theory governing the deflection of the thin layer. These considerations lead to the formulation of a nonlinear traveling wave problem with a free boundary, which is solved numerically. The scaled solution depends only on one number K, which has the meaning of a dimensionless toughness. The asymptotic viscosity- and toughness-dominated regimes, respectively, corresponding to small and large K, represent the end members of a family of solutions. It is shown that the far-field curvature can be interpreted as an apparent toughness, which is a universal function of K. In the viscosity regime, the apparent toughness does not depend on K, while in the toughness regime, it is equal to K. By noting that the apparent toughness represents an intermediate asymptote for the layer curvature under certain conditions, the obtention of time-dependent solutions for propagating near-surface hydraulic fractures can be greatly simplified. Indeed, any such solutions can be constructed by a matched asymptotics approach, with the outer solution corresponding to a uniformly pressurized fracture and the inner solution to the tip solution derived in this paper.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Semi-infinite near-surface hydraulic fracture

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Fig. 2

Lag Λms versus K in the ms-scaling

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Fig. 3

Far-field curvature Ω″ms(∞) versus K in ms-scaling

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Fig. 4

Aperture at the fluid front, Ωms(Λms,K) versus K in the ms-scaling

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Fig. 5

Aperture profile in ms-scaling

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Fig. 6

Profiles of the curvature in Log-Log scales

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Fig. 7

Net pressure profile in ms-scaling

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Fig. 8

Bounds of limiting solutions

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Fig. 9

Bounds of limiting solutions

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Fig. 10

Mesh and beam element for the numerical scheme

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Fig. 11

Convergence of far-field curvature with length of channel

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Fig. 12

Convergence of lag with discretization length Δξ¯

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