Rock deformation at different stress levels in the brittle regime and across the brittle-ductile transition is controlled by damage processes occurring on different spatial scales, from grain scale to fractured rock masse. These lead to a progressive increase of micro- and meso-crack intensity in the rock matrix and to the growth of inherited macro-fractures at rock mass scale. Coalescence of these fractures forms large-scale structures such as brittle fault zones and deep-seated rock slide shear zones. Diffuse or localized rock damage have a primary influence on rock properties (strength, elastic moduli, hydraulic and electric properties) and their evolution across multiple temporal scales spanning from geological times to highly dynamic phenomena as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides. In subcritical stress conditions, damage accumulation results in brittle creep processes key to the long-term evolution of geophysical, geomorphological and geo-engineering systems.

Damage and progressive failure processes must be considered to understand the time-dependent hydro-mechanical behaviour of faults (e.g. stick-slip vs asesismic creep), volcanic systems and slopes (e.g. slow rock slope deformation vs catastrophic rock slides), as well as the response of rock masses to stress perturbations induced by artificial excavations (tunnels, mines) and static or dynamic loadings. At the same time, damage processes control the brittle behaviour of the upper crust and are strongly influenced by intrinsic rock properties (strength, fabric, porosity, anisotropy), geological structures and their inherited damage, as well as by the evolving pressure-temperature with increasing depth and by fluid pressure, transport properties and chemistry. However, many complex relationships between these factors and rock damage are yet to be understood.

In this session we will bring together researchers from different communities interested in a better understanding of rock damage processes and consequence. We welcome innovative contributions on experimental studies (both in the laboratory and in situ), continuum / micromechanical analytical and numerical modelling, and applications to fault zones, reservoirs, slope instability and landscape evolution, and engineering applications. Studies adopting novel approaches and combined methodologies are particularly welcome.

Invited speakers:
- Brian Collins  (U.S. Geological Survey)
-  Jérôme Aubry  (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris)

Co-organized by GM4/NH3
Convener: Federico Agliardi | Co-conveners: David Amitrano, Marie ViolayECSECS, Christian Zangerl, Lucas Pimienta, Benedikt Ahrens, Carolina GiorgettiECSECS, Marieke RempeECSECS
| Tue, 05 May, 08:30–12:30 (CEST)

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Chat time: Tuesday, 5 May 2020, 08:30–10:15

D1207 |
| solicited
Jessica McBeck, John Aiken, Joachim Mathiesen, Yehuda Ben-Zion, and Francois Renard

A fundamental challenge in geophysics is predicting the timing of large earthquakes. A key step in addressing this problem is constraining the factors that indicate the timing of the next large rupture. To isolate the factors that help predict the proximity of the next earthquake, we develop machine learning models to predict the stress distance to macroscopic failure in triaxial compression X-ray tomography experiments on rocks at the stress conditions of the upper crust. In these experiments, we apply increasing axial stress in steps, and acquire a 3D X-ray tomogram at each stress step while the rock is under constant load, revealing the 3D density distribution. Segmenting the density fields provide the locations of rock (voxels dominated by solid), and pores and fractures (voxels dominated by air). We train the machine learning models using the geometry and clustering properties of the fracture networks identified in the tomography scans. We develop extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost) models to predict the stress distance to failure. In experiments on Carrara marble, monzonite, and granite, the models predict the stress distance to failure with r2 values > 0.7. We examine the feature importance to identify the factors that provide the best predictive power of the distance to failure. Measurements of the fracture network clustering and the shape anisotropy of fractures tend to have the highest importance of the features, providing greater predictive information than the fracture volume, fracture length, fracture aperture, and fracture orientation relative to the maximum compression direction.

How to cite: McBeck, J., Aiken, J., Mathiesen, J., Ben-Zion, Y., and Renard, F.: Predicting the proximity to system-scale rupture using fracture networks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3316, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-3316, 2020

D1208 |
Jérôme Aubry, François Passelègue, Javier Escartín, Damien Deldicque, Julien Gasc, Samson Marty, Marine Page, and Alexandre Schubnel

In the lithosphere, the transition from brittle to ductile deformation corresponds to a regime where brittle fracturing and plastic flow coexist, called the semi-brittle deformation zone. Within these different regimes, a large fault slip spectrum has been observed, from fast to slow earthquakes. Studying the parameters controlling fault (un-)stability and strain partitioning across this transition is fundamental to understand how natural faults behave at varying crustal depths.

To investigate semi-brittle deformation and the conditions promoting it, we report here the results of experiments performed on Carrara marble saw-cut faults in triaxial conditions. We studied the influence of the confining pressure, axial loading rates and initial fault roughness on fault (un-)stability. From mechanical data, we performed strain partitioning calculations to infer elastic, frictional and plastic strain contributions during the deformation process.

We conclude that (laboratory) earthquakes may nucleate within a regime where homogeneous plastic deformation of the bulk and dynamic fault slip may coexist. The contribution of plastic strain is promoted with increasing confining pressure and fault roughness.

How to cite: Aubry, J., Passelègue, F., Escartín, J., Deldicque, D., Gasc, J., Marty, S., Page, M., and Schubnel, A.: Fault (un-)stability and strain partitioning across the brittle-ductile transition, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4092, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-4092, 2020

D1209 |
Sergio Vinciguerra, Thomas King, Philip Benson, and Luca De Siena

Acoustic Emissions (AE), the laboratory analogue to seismic events, recorded during conventional triaxial deformation tests allow for an unprecedented amount of information on the evolution of fractured media within a controlled environment. This study presents the results of a new and robust derivation of first motion polarity focal mechanism solutions (FMS). 4 x 10 cm cylindrical samples of Alzo Granite (AG) and Darley Dale Sandstone (DDS) underwent systematic triaxial deformation testing (5, 10, 20 and 40 MPa) in order to investigate the relationships between increasing confining pressure, deformation and failure mode and role of pre-existing microstructure. With an average of 11 of 12 waveforms picked using a neural network for each AE, high resolution datasets are obtained that can track the evolution of deformation structure through time. Focal mechanisms are solved using a least squares minimisation of the fit between projected polarity measurements and the deviatoric stress field induced by tensile, shearing and collapse/closing type sources. Results reveal a surprisingly limited dependency on the distribution of shear fracturing in the lead up to dynamic failure. Instead, deformation is driven by the competition between the opening and closure of fractures that is strongly related to the coupling of local stress fields with pre-existing damage.Spatio-temporal trends in mechanism type and AE amplitude allow for clear identification of: a) Fracture Enucleation. This phase is characterised by broadly distributed tensile fracturing that becomes preferentially aligned as confining pressure increases; b) Fracture Growth. The onset is characterized by a discrete increase in low amplitude shearing events and cyclic fracture development that evolves from a dominance of collapse to shearing followed by tensile fracturing which then returns to collapse type. Influences in mechanism dominance due to rock type are highlighted by increased tensile fracturing in AG, which is replaced by shearing in DDS. A reduction in low amplitude tensile events at 10 MPa in both rock types further reveals a switch from axial splitting to planar localisation as confinement increases; c) Crack Coalescence. The cyclic fracture growth prior to dynamic failure and the amount of strain of this phase share a positive log-linear relationship with confining pressure, allowing to identify the potential for real-time failure prediction; d) Dynamic Failure: High amplitude events characterize the propagation of fractures. Taken together results highlight that failure of the studied samples is the result of the complex interaction between distinct regions of dilatant and compactant deformation. Although planar localisation and preferentially aligned flaws play a more significant role at higher confining pressures, it is the initial heterogeneity or patchiness of the regions undergoing damage that control dynamic failure occurrence and the eventual fracture plane features.

How to cite: Vinciguerra, S., King, T., Benson, P., and De Siena, L.: Damage indicators and failure prediction in Focal Mechanism solutions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13547, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-13547, 2020

D1210 |
Nathaniel Forbes Inskip, Tomos Phillips, Kevin Bisdom, Georgy Borisochev, Andreas Busch, and Sabine den Hartog

Fractures are ubiquitous in geological sequences, and play an important role in the movement of fluids in the earth’s crust, particularly in fields such as hydrogeology, petroleum geology and volcanology. When predicting or analysing fluid flow, fractures are often simplified as a set of smooth parallel plates. In reality, they exhibit tortuosity on a number of scales: Fine-scale tortuosity, or roughness, is the product of the small-scale (µm – mm) irregularities in the fracture surface, whereas large-scale (> mm) tortuosity occurs as a result of anisotropy and heterogeneity within the host formation that leads to the formation of irregularities in the fracture surfaces. It is important to consider such tortuosity when analysing processes that rely on the movement (or hindrance) of fluids flowing through fractures in the subsurface. Such processes include fluid injection into granitic plutons for the extraction of heat in Engineered Geothermal Systems, or the injection of CO2 into reservoirs overlain by fine-grained mudrocks acting as seals in Carbon Capture and Storage projects.

Although it is generally assumed that tortuosity is controlled by factors such as grain size, mineralogy and fracture mode, a systematic study of how these factors quantitatively affect tortuosity is currently lacking. Furthermore, in anisotropic rocks the fracture orientation with respect to any inherent anisotropy is also likely to affect tortuosity.

In order to address this gap, we have induced fractures in a selection of different rock types (mudrocks, sandstones and carbonates) using the Brazil disk method, and imaged the fracture surfaces using both a digital optical microscope and X-ray Computed Tomography. Using these methods we are able to characterise both the fine-scale (roughness) and large-scale tortuosity. In order to understand the effect of fracture orientation on tortuosity we have also analysed fractures induced at different angles to bedding in samples of a highly anisotropic mudrock taken from South Wales, UK. Results indicate that fine-scale tortuosity is highly dependent on the fracture orientation with regards to the bedding plane, with fractures normal to bedding being rougher than those induced parallel to bedding. Finally, in order to measure the effect of tortuosity on fluid flow, we have carried out a series of core flooding experiments on a subset of fractured samples showing that fracture transmissivity decreases with increasing tortuosity.

How to cite: Forbes Inskip, N., Phillips, T., Bisdom, K., Borisochev, G., Busch, A., and den Hartog, S.: An investigation into the controls on fracture tortuosity in rock sequences and the impact on fluid flow in the upper crust, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10236, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-10236, 2020

D1211 |
Philip Benson, Stephan Gehne, Nathaniel Forbes Inskip, Philip Meredith, and Nick Koor

Fluid-driven fracturing is a key process in enhancing production in both the hydrocarbon and geothermal energy extraction industries. However, whilst a large number of studies have now developed laboratory methods to simulate the process in a range of settings, and across a number of different rock types, data relating the fundamental material parameters (such as fracture toughness) to the overall rock mechanics response as a function of parameters such as confining and pore pressure remain limited. Here we report a new analysis to recover fracture toughness across a range of effective pressures from hydraulic fracturing experiments that use a modified thick-walled cylinder sample mounted in a conventional triaxial deformation apparatus. We use samples that are 90mm in length and 40mm diameter, with a central, axially drilled borehole 12.6 mm in diameter. An array of 16 ports in the engineered, nitrile, sample jacket allows us to record radial strain (4 channels), acoustic emission output (11 channels) and borehole fluid pressure (1 channel) continuously throughout each test. The sample material was Nash Point shale (NPS) from the south coast of Wales, UK, with samples cored both normal and parallel to bedding in order to investigate the effect of anisotropy. Earlier, ambient pressure fracture toughness tests using the Semi-Circular Bend sample geometry had indicated significant anisotropy, values of 0.24 – 0.30 MPa.m1/2 in the Short-Transverse (ST) orientation, and 0.71 - 0.73 MPa.m1/2 in the Divider (DIV) orientation.

Here, we present results from a suite of 9 experiments, 6 with samples cored parallel to bedding (ST fracture orientation) and 3 with samples cored normal to bedding (DIV fracture orientation). We find that the fluid injection pressure required to fracture our annular shell samples is significantly higher for DIV samples than for ST samples, and increases significantly with increasing confining pressure in both orientations; ranging from 10 to 36 MPa for ST samples and 30 to 58 MPa for DIV samples as confining pressure is increased from 2.2 to 20.5 MPa. We note that the fluid injection pressure undergoes a number of oscillations between fracture nucleation and the fracture reaching the sample boundary. Such oscillations are more common in ST samples than in DIV samples, and in experiments at lower confining pressures. We use the magnitude of each pressure oscillation to estimate the associated increment of fracture extension via the proportion of AE energy generated relative to the total energy accumulated when the fracture reaches the sample boundary. This analysis produces fracture toughness values ranging from 0.36 to 2.76 MPa.m1/2 (ST orientation) and 2.98 to 4.05 MPa.m1/2 (DIV orientation) as confining pressure was increased from 2.2 to 20.5 MPa. We further find that the increase in fracture toughness increases essentially linearly with increasing effective pressure, and this trend appears to be independent of orientation and the material anisotropy.

How to cite: Benson, P., Gehne, S., Forbes Inskip, N., Meredith, P., and Koor, N.: Fluid-driven tensile fracture and fracture toughness in Nash Point Shale at elevated pressure., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-14434, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-14434, 2020

D1212 |
Christian David

A benchmark of low permeability measurements has been organized by the Geosciences and Environment Laboratory at University Cergy-Pontoise over the period 2015-2018. The objective of this benchmark was to measure or estimate through modelling the permeability of a single material, selected for its low permeability. A wide range of different approaches were covered, classified into (i) direct measurement methods, including steady-state, transient pulse and oscillatory techniques and (ii) models using microstructural data obtained from imaging or porosimetry techniques. At the beginning, 30 laboratories in 8 different countries volunteered to participate, and at the end results from 24 labs were collected which is remarkable.

The selected rock was the Grimsel granodiorite (Switzerland), so the benchmark was called “KG²B”, which means “K for Grimsel Granodiorite Benchmark”. Two fresh cores with diameter 85 mm and about one meter long each were provided by colleagues from ETH Zürich. The cores were drilled in the Swiss Grimsel test site, an underground research laboratory in hard rock, at a distance between 4 and 6 meters from the tunnel, away from the EDZ. The cores were cut into small pieces (between 2 and 10 cm long) and sent to the participants. The porosity of the Grimsel Granodiorite is less than 1%, and the permeability is in the 10-18 m² range.

The expected outcomes of the benchmark were: (i) to compare the results for each method separately and (ii) between the different methods/models, (iii) to assess the precision of each method, (iv) to study the influence of experimental conditions, especially sample size and the nature of pore fluid, (v) to gather information on the know-how in each laboratory, and finally (vi) to suggest good practice for low permeability measurements.

The benchmark was designed as a blind test, i.e. the results from each lab were not known by the other labs except for the organizers. A dedicated website [1] was constantly updated to allow the participants to follow the progression of the benchmark. It took about three years to manage the benchmark, collect all the data, complete the dataset analysis and publish the results [2,3]. The results collected allowed us to discuss the influence of pore-fluid, measurement method, sample size and pressure sensitivity, as well as the relevance of various models for permeability estimation. The most striking and unexpected result was that regardless of the method used, the mean gas permeability was higher than the mean liquid permeability by a factor approximately 2.

As an introduction to the session, our aim is to show how conducting such a benchmarking exercise can help to answer the questions raised by the session: - How repeatable are permeability measurements, and how dependent are they on the apparatuses and methods? - Which experimental pitfalls exist, what are the underlying assumptions and how might they impact permeability? - Can we define standard experimental procedures to improve permeability measurements in low permeability materials?


  • [1] https://labo.u-cergy.fr/~kg2b
  • [2] Geophys. J. Int., 215, 799-824, doi: 10.1093/gji/ggy304, 2018.
  • [3] Geophys. J. Int., 215, 825-843, doi: 10.1093/gji/ggy305, 2018.

How to cite: David, C.: KG²B, a world-wide inter-laboratory benchmark of low permeability measurement and modelling, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6010, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-6010, 2020

D1213 |
Hugo Saur, Charles Aubourg, Peter Moonen, Pascale Sénéchal, Tiphaine Boiron, and Hannelore Derluyn

We focus on calcareous homogenous shales featuring different degrees of damage along a km-long strain gradient, marked by cleavage development. In a previous study, we used high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (µCT) to document the evolution of the 3D fabric of the fine-grained shales along the strain gradient (Saur et al., JSG, 2020). Our conclusions were based on samples of ~ 2.5 mm3 containing over 10’000 quartz and calcite grains. The objective of the current study is to assess the representativeness of analyses on such small rock samples. To that extent, we first repeat the µCT analysis on multiple samples of the same, limited, volume and assess the variability of the results. These results are then compared to both macroscopic field observations and bulk fabric measurements obtained with AMS (Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility) on larger samples (~ 10 cm3). AMS provides a statistical description of the magnetic susceptibility tensor, and particularly the confidence angle of axis orientation. Generally, this confidence angle is the result of matrix organization and rock magnetism. In this study, AMS is only controlled by the presence of illite particles which reflect the matrix organization. Finally, we perform a subvolume analysis on the µCT images to determine the smallest representative volume characterizing the fine-grained fabric. In light of these analyses we discuss the representativeness of investigated volume of fine grained shales, subjected to different degrees of deformation.

How to cite: Saur, H., Aubourg, C., Moonen, P., Sénéchal, P., Boiron, T., and Derluyn, H.: Representativeness of volume investigated by high-resolution X-ray computed tomography in damaged fine-grained rocks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20641, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-20641, 2020

D1214 |
| solicited
Brian D. Collins, Greg M. Stock, Martha-Cary Eppes, Antoine Guerin, Michel Jaboyedoff, and Federica Sandrone

Fracture processes in rock have widespread implications in the geohazard, geomorphologic, and civil and mining engineering communities.  Propagation of fractures reduces overall rock mass strength, can lead to large-scale gravitational instabilities, and can cause significant hazard and damage to infrastructure.  The potential for critical fracture in the form of rock falls and rock bursts are often the primary driver for scientific investigations, civil work project planning, and mining investment outlays.  However, slower subcritical fracture from long-term monotonic and/or cyclic stress perturbations often control the eventual more rapid (and more catastrophic) response of rock.  These slower damage mechanisms may result from existing or perturbed tectonic stresses, stress relief from exhumation or excavation, or long-term environmental stressors such as thermal cycling and frost cracking.

Here we investigate the role of thermal cycling in generating subcritical stresses to which virtually all rock cliffs worldwide are exposed.  Our hypothesis – that diurnal and seasonal cycles of temperature can lead to substantial subcritical fracture propagation and eventual critical fracture – has led us to design several field and laboratory experiments to measure both the deformations and the stresses associated with environmental thermal forcing in rock.  Our studies focus on granitic exfoliation environments, common in many mountainous regions of the world, where relatively thin (centimeters to decimeters) exfoliation sheets are able to undergo a full thickness thermal response, and where exfoliation-related rock falls are common and in some places, well-documented.

In cliff environments located in Yosemite National Park (California, USA), our field studies using in-situ measurements (i.e., crackmeters and temperature sensors) have shown that diurnal and seasonal thermal cycles lead to cyclic stresses in the subcritical range, with resultant cumulative and seemingly permanent rock deformation outwards from the main cliff surface.  Additional field studies using thermal IRT (InfraRed Thermography) imaging identify the locations of rock bridges that likely serve as focal points for these thermally-induced stress concentrations.  Although we did not measure the critical fracture conditions that would result in a rock fall, we did, fortuitously, capture the deformation signals leading up to explosive fracture of a nearby granitic 100-m-diameter exfoliation dome during peak temperatures at the site (located ~60 km northwest from Yosemite), thereby proving the efficacy of thermal stresses in driving both long term – and catastrophic – rock damage.  These field studies are substantiated by analytical fracture mechanics solutions which show how rock may eventually fail under these conditions.  These studies therefore serve as proxies for understanding how some rock falls eventually occur under subcritical thermally-induced cyclic stress conditions, but also more generally for how thermal-stress conditions may affect rock damage in a multitude of environments.

How to cite: Collins, B. D., Stock, G. M., Eppes, M.-C., Guerin, A., Jaboyedoff, M., and Sandrone, F.: Thermal influences on macroscale rock damage, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-2783, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-2783, 2020

D1215 |
Yuval Tal and Daniel Faulkner

Geological and geophysical observations of fault zones reveal that fault cores are surrounded by regions of damaged rocks consist of fractures at a wide range of length scales with decaying intensity with distance from the fault core. The main mechanisms proposed for the development of off-fault damage include slip on faults with geometrical irregularities, migrating process zones, and dynamic damage from the passage of earthquake ruptures. Field observations of relatively deep exhumed fault zones have shown that fault damage zone width scales with the displacement on a fault. In this study, we combine such observations with numerical modeling to test what is the dominant mechanism producing off-fault damage at depth of several kilometres.

The field data [Faulkner et al., 2011] include measurements of micro-fracture damage zone width from small displacement fault zones within the Atacama fault zone in northern Chile that formed at ∼6 km depth within a dioritic protolith. An increase in damage zone width with displacement is clearly seen. We perform simulations of slip on synthetic faults, with roughness properties similar to that of natural faults, and examine how the total slip and roughness characteristics affect the extent and intensity of inelastic deformation to constrain the geometrical and frictional properties that could generate the observed damage. To accurately account for the effects of geometrical irregularities on the fault and allow slip that is large relative to the size the minimum roughness wavelength, we use the mortar finite element method, in which non-matching meshes are allowed across the fault and the contacts are continuously updated. Inelastic deformation of the bulk is modelled with Drucker–Prager viscoplasticity, which is a simple choice for describing cracked medium and is closely related to the Mohr–Coulomb model. Our results indicate that, for the depth and fault lengths in the field data, geometrical irregularities produce the scaling of damage zone width with displacement observed in the field and suggest that this, rather than the other mechanisms, produce most of the damage.

How to cite: Tal, Y. and Faulkner, D.: The effect of geometrical irregularities on damage zone width: Modeling and field observations , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5884, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-5884, 2020

D1216 |
Elisabeth Bemer, Noalwenn Dubos-Sallée, and Patrick N. J. Rasolofosaon

The differences between static and dynamic elastic moduli remain a controversial issue in rock physics. Various empirical correlations can be found in the literature. However, the experimental methods used to derive the static and dynamic elastic moduli differ and may entail substantial part of the discrepancies observed at the laboratory scale. The representativeness and bias of these methods should be fully assessed before applying big data analytics to the numerous datasets available in the literature.

We will illustrate, discuss and analyze the differences inherent to static and dynamic measurements through a series of triaxial and petroacoustic tests performed on an outcrop carbonate. The studied rock formation is Euville limestone, which is a crinoidal grainstone composed of roughly 99% calcite and coming from Meuse department located in Paris Basin. Sister plugs have been cored from the same quarry block and observed under CT-scanner to check their homogeneity levels.

The triaxial device is equipped with an internal stress sensor and provides axial strain measurements both from strain gauges glued to the samples and LVDTs placed inside the confinement chamber. Two measures of the static Young's modulus can thus be derived: the first one from the local strain measurements provided by the strain gauges and the second one from the semi-local strain measurements provided by the LVDTs. The P- and S-wave velocities are measured both through first break picking and the phase spectral ratio method, providing also two different measures of the dynamic Young's modulus.

The triaxial tests have been performed in drained conditions and the measured static elastic moduli correspond to drained elastic moduli. The petroacoustic tests have been performed using the fluid substitution method, which consists in measuring the acoustic velocities for various saturating fluids of different bulk modulus. No weakening or dispersion effects have been observed. Gassmann's equation can then be used to derive the dynamic drained elastic moduli and the solid matrix bulk modulus, which is otherwise either taken from the literature for pure calcite or dolomite samples, or computed using Voigt-Reuss-Hill or Hashin-Shtrikman averaging of the mineral constituents.

For the studied carbonate formation, we obtain similar values for static and dynamic elastic moduli when derived from careful lab experiments. Based on the obtained results, we will finally make recommendations, emphasizing the necessity of using relevant experimental techniques for a consistent characterization of the relation between static and dynamic elastic moduli.

How to cite: Bemer, E., Dubos-Sallée, N., and Rasolofosaon, P. N. J.: Differences between static and dynamic elastic moduli: Importance of experimental methods, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9982, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-9982, 2020

D1217 |
Chiara Caselle, Sabrina Bonetto, and Patrick Baud

The mechanical response of natural gypsum rock is relevant in a wide range of engineering applications (e.g. tunnel excavation, stability assessment of underground quarries, oil and gas accumulation). In particular, in underground quarry environments, static loading conditions insisting on the gypsum pillars during and after the exploitation activities (i.e. several decades) require a specific attention to the sub-critical time-dependent deformation of the rock. The short-term stability (referred to the possibility of a failure in consequence to the sudden application of the axial load) does not preclude the possibility of deformation or even failure in the long-term.

In addition, the underground drifts of gypsum quarries are often located below the static level of the groundwater table, requiring a continuous water pumping to allow for the accessibility of the drifts themselves. The end of the quarry activity, coinciding with the interruption of the de-watering operations and the re-assessment of the original level of water table, brings to the new water saturation of the gypsum body. The water fills the connected porosity of the rock, influencing the general stability of the underground voids.

For these reasons, the present work aims to investigate the mechanical response of gypsum rock in time-dependent regime, also considering the influence of water saturation. The study proposes an experimental investigation of the influence of water on the rheology of a natural gypsum facies (i.e. branching selenite gypsum), distinguishing between the mechanical effects of a saturating fluid (in relation to the internal pore pressure), that should also be observed with a non-reactive fluid such as oil, and the water-gypsum chemical interactions. This influence of water is investigated in uniaxial compression, under uniaxial creep conditions and conventional triaxial compression. The new mechanical data are accompanied by microstructural observations of the effects induced in the rock by the mechanical compression, aiming to propose a description of the mechanisms involved in the gypsum deformation process.

How to cite: Caselle, C., Bonetto, S., and Baud, P.: Time-dependent behaviour and water influence on the mechanical response of gypsum rock in underground quarry frameworks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4138, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-4138, 2020

D1218 |
Antoine Jacquey, Klaus Regenauer-Lieb, Francesco Parisio, and Mauro Cacace

Material instabilities are critical phenomena which can occur in geomaterials at high stress and temperature conditions. They generally result in the degradation of the microstructure organisation, ultimately leading to material failure. These phenomena are relevant to a large variety of geoscientific and geotechnical applications including earthquake physics, fault mechanics, successful targeting of unconventional georesources and mitigation of induced seismicity. Quantifying and predicting the onset of material degradation upon instability remains a major challenge due to our lack of understanding of the physics controlling the behaviour of porous rocks subject to high temperature and pressure conditions.

In the laboratory, rocks gradually transition from a time-independent brittle behaviour to a transient semi-brittle, semi-ductile behaviour upon an increase in pressure and/or temperature. Furthermore, even when subject to constant subcritical stress conditions rocks have been observed to macroscopically fail due to growth of subcritical processes such as stress corrosion. Brittle creep is a phenomenon observed on a variety of rock types (volcanic and sedimentary) and shows a high sensitivity to temperature and stress conditions. In the field, such subcritical transient processes are difficult to detect and can jeopardise the safety of geothermal projects. Transient failure mechanisms in the reservoir have set back geotechnical projects through induced seismicity occurring days or even weeks after stimulation shut in as observed at the Basel geothermal site in Switzerland or at the Pohang geothermal project in South Korea. These observations demonstrate how conventional techniques fail at describing the physics responsible for fault reactivation, which is controlled by dynamic processes resulting from transient multiphysics coupling.

In this contribution, we detail the theory and procedure to develop a constitutive model for rate-dependent damage poro-elasto-plastic material behaviour suitable for porous rocks. To allow for a generic framework for assessing geomaterials instabilities, this model incorporates the potential for microstructure degradation and a path- and rate-dependence. To that purpose, we rely on thermodynamic principles to derive in the frame of the hyperplasticity theory a coupled hydro-mechanical rate-dependent plasticity and damage rheology. We present numerical examples of this new constitutive model at the laboratory scale using experimental data on brittle creep in sandstones and discuss the implications upon upscaling at the reservoir and lithosphere scale.

How to cite: Jacquey, A., Regenauer-Lieb, K., Parisio, F., and Cacace, M.: Multiphysics of transient deformation processes leading to macroscopic instabilities in geomaterials, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16050, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-16050, 2020

D1219 |
Tom Vincent-Dospital, Renaud Toussaint, Stéphane Santucci, Loïc Vanel, Daniel Bonamy, Lamine Hattali, Alain Cochard, Eirik Grude Flekkøy, and Knut Jørgen Måløy

The growth of fractures within mechanically loaded materials often shows two different behaviors. When loaded below a particular threshold in energy release rate, cracks tend indeed to creep at very slow velocities, while the rupture becomes catastrophic beyond this threshold, with propagation velocities approaching that of the material mechanical waves. Understanding according to which of these two behaviors a material is prone to break is of paramount importance, notably in engineering, where the brittle rupture of structures can lead to unpredicted disasters. It is also fundamental in Earth science, as damaging earthquakes  are rather generated by abrupt ruptures in the crustal rocks than by their slow deformations. To explain both behaviors, we focus here on the thermal effects which are auto-induced by the growth of cracks. During their propagation, some of the system’s energy is indeed partly dissipated by Joule heating, which is arising from the friction in a damaged zone around the fracture fronts. The heat hence generated can in return have a significant impact on the physics of the propagation. For instance, the stability of faults is believed to be affected by the thermo-pressurization of their in situ fluids. Independently of this effect, we show, how statistical physics, as understood by an Arrhenius law that includes the dissipation and diffusion of heat around the fracture tip, can explain the full dynamics of cracks, from the slow creep to the fast rupture.

We indeed show that such a model can successfully describe most of the experimentally reported fracture rheology, quantified in terms of velocity / energy release rate relations, in two different types of polymers, acrylic glasses and pressure sensitive adhesives, over eight decades of crack velocities. In these two cases, it is sufficient to assume that these polymers are homogeneous to model their failure. Yet, we in addition illustrate how the thermal disorder, from both the ambient temperature and the propagation induced heat, should interact with the matter typical quenched disorder in fracture energy. Numerical simulations of planar cracks in heterogeneous media indeed show that such quenched disorder helps to trigger hot avalanches in the propagation of cracks, making the overall toughness of a material highly dependent on both its heterogeneities, as it is often reported in the literature, and its thermal properties.

How to cite: Vincent-Dospital, T., Toussaint, R., Santucci, S., Vanel, L., Bonamy, D., Hattali, L., Cochard, A., Flekkøy, E. G., and Måløy, K. J.: To creep or to snap? How induced heat governs the brittleness of matter, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19084, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-19084, 2020

D1220 |
Piernicola Lollino, Nunzio Luciano Fazio, Michele Perrotti, Alessio Genco, Gaetano Elia, and Matteo Oryem Ciantia

The assessment of susceptibility to failure of soft rock coastal cliffs, along with the associated failure mechanism, is not a simple task. Equilibrium conditions depend on the combination of several factors such as structural setting, rock mechanical strength, weathering processes, the hydro-mechanical action of sea waves, the variation of the rock cliff geometry, to mention some of the most important ones. From a geomechanical perspective, the brittle - strain softening behaviour of the rocks plays a key role in the onset and propagation of failure (Ciantia & Castellanza 2015). In particular, the rapid strength reduction occurring after peak under mechanical loading leading to localised deformations within shear fractures is detrimental for rock cliffs. Taking rock brittleness into account in numerical simulations under the framework of continuum mechanics is not straightforward, due to the problems related to a strong dependence of the numerical results from the adopted mesh when strain-softening laws are implemented (Vermeer and Brinkgreve 1994). Nowadays, several regularization techniques are available to control the size of the localised region and prevent the mesh dependence. Within regularization techniques, the nonlocal integral type solution has the advantage of not changing the field equations which facilitates numerical implementation. In this approach, the chosen nonlocal variables are valuated from spatial averages of the field variables in a neighbourhood, and the constitutive model is updated by replacing a local variable with its nonlocal counterpart. Consequently, the constitutive response of a Gauss point is influenced by all the integration points within a neighbourhood, with the size determined through a characteristic length (Bažant and Jirásek 2002). This contribution addresses the problem of the stability of an ideal 2-D plane strain coastal cliff, 20-m high, by means of the use of a non-local constitutive model implemented in a commercial finite element code (Mánica et al. 2018). The numerical results show insights into the evolution of the strain field and the process of slip surface/fracture propagation in the rock cliff as well as highlight the importance of regularising the finite element solution in the presence of brittle materials.

How to cite: Lollino, P., Fazio, N. L., Perrotti, M., Genco, A., Elia, G., and Ciantia, M. O.: Assessment of the mechanism of fracture propagation of soft rock coastal cliffs by using non-local constitutive models, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19783, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-19783, 2020

D1221 |
Sandra Schumacher and Werner Gräsle

The onset of dilatancy determines the start of critical fracture growth in rocks under increasing load. For various applications such as the construction of nuclear repositories or dams, a quantitative comprehensive knowledge on the critical conditions leading to dilatancy is required.

Thus, it is important to determine the parameters, which control the dilatant behaviour of rocks, and to analyse their interactions.

We conducted a series of undrained triaxial experiments on two consolidated, fully saturated Opalinus Clay samples from the Mont Terri underground research lab and one sample of Bunter Sandstone from southern Lower Saxony. By testing only a few samples but them extensively, we avoid that the natural material heterogeneity among multiple samples affected our results. Here we show that our approach allows identifying new correlations between different parameters with surprising clarity.

During the experiments, which can take years, the samples are repeatedly exposed to increases in differential stress (σ13) into the dilatant regime but always well below the point of failure. This we achieve by monitoring the pore pressure during the increase in differential stress. The onset of dilatancy becomes visible as clear drop in pore pressure with increasing differential stress.

In addition to the detection of the onset of dilatancy via the pore pressure evolution, pressure diffusion experiments are performed to determine the onset of dilatancy. For this, in the dilatant regime, the differential stress is kept constant and the pore pressure on one side of the sample is de- and increased repeatedly, while the reaction of the pore pressure on the other side of the sample is monitored. With the pore pressure pulse diffusing though our sample specimen, this controlled pore pressure variation induces a transition between dilatant and subdilatant regimes at constant differential stress.

The values for the onset of dilatancy derived by these two methods permit a comprehensive analysis of the dilatant behaviour not only of the Opalinus Clay samples, but also of the Bunter Sandstone sample. Our results show that dilatant behaviour of the tested materials is not governed by only one parameter but by an intricate interplay of several parameters.  Consequently, the development of an equation of state for the dilatant behaviour of different types of rock is achievable. However, due to the multiple parameter dependencies, it will be a time-consuming undertaking.

How to cite: Schumacher, S. and Gräsle, W.: The onset of dilatancy in rocks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5397, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-5397, 2020

D1222 |
Salvatore D'Urso, Lucas Pimienta, François Passelègue, Federica Sandrone, Sergio Vinciguerra, and Marie Violay

Fracture mechanics is an important tool to assess the slope stability, since this approach offers a methodology to study the fracture stress field in the neighborhood of the joint tips and accurately predict propagation of the joints over time. While the fracture toughness of material has been extensively studied in the past, low interest was given to the influence of initial damage on the subcritical crack growth, despite of its relevance to assess long term slope stability. Here we report new experimental results that address this question.

Starting from the real case of unstable rock mass of “Madonna del Sasso” (Colombero et al., 2015), a series of Cracked Chevron Notched Brazilian Disc (CCNBD) (Fowell, 1995) specimens were failed in a standard Mode I tensile test to investigate the effects of thermal damage on fracture toughness and subcritical crack growth on samples of granite of Alzo.

The degree of initial damage was imposed using slow heat treatment (1°C/min) up to 100, 200, 300 and 400°C, to emulate different levels of rock degradation. The samples were equipped with strain gauges close to the tips of the notch, an extensometer for the Crack Mouth Opening Displacement (CMOD) and twelve Acoustic Emission recorders.

Our results show that fracture toughness decreases with increasing thermal damage, in agreement with previous studies (Nasseri, Schubnel, & Young, 2007). The fracture toughness of undamaged granite is 1.04 MPa m1/2, but 0.65 MPa m1/2 after treatment up to 400°C.

Subcritical crack growth behaviour has been studied for samples treated from 100°C up to 400°C through creep tests on CCNBD specimens. The overall effect of heat treatment is to increase the crack growth rate in granite for a given stress intensity factor. The slopes of stress intensity factor versus crack velocity curves are sensitive to modifications of initial damage’s degree. Trend drops substantially with increase of the temperature of the heat treatment. This shows a substantial increase of the internal damage index n, and a decrease of the time to failure of the CCNBD specimens.

The study highlights the importance of considering both the time-dependent slope behaviour and effects of rocks internal damage, since these conditions could lead to an unexpected premature failure.

How to cite: D'Urso, S., Pimienta, L., Passelègue, F., Sandrone, F., Vinciguerra, S., and Violay, M.: Influence of the initial damage on fracture toughness and subcritical crack growth in a granite rock, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10379, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-10379, 2020

D1223 |
Anne Pluymakers, Richard Bakker, and Auke Barnhoorn

Not all rocks are perfect. Frequently heterogeneities will be present, either in the form of pre-existing fractures, or in the form of sealed fractures. Tensile strength and strength anisotropy of rocks has been investigated for strongly layered rocks, such as shales, sandstones and gneisses, but data is lacking on the effect of single planar heterogeneities, such as pre-existing fractures or stylolites. We have performed Brazilian Disc tests on limestone samples containing pre-existing fractures and stylolites, investigating Brazilian test Strength (BtS) and fracture orientation. We used Indiana limestone samples, pre-fractured with the Brazilian Disc method, and Treuchtlinger Marmor samples which contained central stylolites. All experiments were filmed. The planar discontinuity was set at different rotation angles of approximately 0–20–30–45–60–90⁰, where 90⁰ is parallel to the principal loading direction, and 0⁰ to the horizontal axis of the sample. Pre-fracturing Indiana limestone samples results in a cohesion-less planar discontinuity, whereas the stylolites in the Treuchtlinger Marmor samples are discontinuities which have some strength.

The results show that our imperfect samples with a planar discontinuity are always weaker than an intact sample. For the Indiana limestone, with a cohesion-less interface, there is 10 to 75% of weakening, which is angle-dependent. Once the angle is 30 or lower there is no influence from the initial fracture for the orientation of the new fracture. The stress-displacement pattern followed the expectation for Brazilian Disc testing. However, in the samples with a stylolite, strength is isotropic and between 25 and 65% of the strength of an intact sample. For all cases several new cracks appeared, of which the orientation is influenced by the orientation of the stylolite. The fracture pattern and associated stress drops are more complex for high angles. Interestingly, in the samples with stylolites, always more than one fracture was formed, whereas in the samples with a cohesionless interface usually only one new fracture formed, which for natural settings suggests a potential for higher fracture density when hydrofracturing a stylolite-rich interval.

A second difference between these datasets is the amplitude of the pre-existing interface. The effect of amplitude will be qualitatively investigated with a 2D Comsol model, to investigate the location of the first fracture occurring, which can then be compared to the camera data of the experiments.

How to cite: Pluymakers, A., Bakker, R., and Barnhoorn, A.: Effect of a heterogeneity on tensile failure: interaction between fractures in a limestone, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10115, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-10115, 2020

D1224 |
Vincent Canel, Xiaoping Jia, Michel Campillo, and Ioan R. Ionescu

Earthquakes or fault core sliding occur naturally in response to long-term deformation produced by plate tectonics. However, the way the damage or fracture process of rocks control the frictional slip is not well understood. It involves indeed materials in very different states: from granular-like materials near the shear band within the highly cracked fault core [1] to almost cohesive state in distant host rocks. To address this issue, we perform controlled laboratory experiments and new numerical simulations of damage in cemented granular materials to study the material evolution from cohesive to granular-like states under external loading. Our synthetic rocks (porous media) are made of cemented glass beads in which the packing density and the cement property (ductile or brittle) as well its content are tunable [2,3]. Two mechanical tests have been conducted: i) under oedometric load in a cylindrical cell with rigid wall; and ii) under triaxial load in a cell with elastic membrane (confined by atmospheric pressure). The fracture processes are monitored by acoustic waves, measuring the longitudinal ultrasound velocity (active detection) [4] and the acoustic emission (passive detection) [5].

More precisely, in the case (i) the fracture process is likely associated with the crack increase, spatially diffused without shear-band formation. For a rock sample cemented by a ductile bond, the damage induced by load appears likely as an anomalous deviation in the master curve of stress-strain whereas the combined acoustic detection provides a very clear evidence with an important sound velocity decrease. Upon cyclic unloading-reloading, we recover a power-law scaling of the sound velocity with the pressure similar to the law in purely granular media but with a finite velocity at vanishing pressure which depends on the residual cohesion of the damaged material. When the drop stress occurs intermittently in fractured samples cemented with brittle materials, we measure not only the sound velocity decrease but also acoustic emissions. In the case (ii) under a triaxial load, we observe the formation of shear-bands, i.e. fractures on the scale of the sample at a load much smaller than those applied in the oedometric loading (i). Again, there is a strong elastic softening (velocity decrease) [4]. Finally, we also compare these experiments with the finite-element modelling of damage and wave propagation in 2D dense cemented disk packings with various cement contents and elasto-visco-plastic properties. This numerical simulation allows to characterize the heterogeneous damage of the material at a microscopic scale.



[1] C. Marone, Laboratory-derived friction laws and their applications to seismic faulting, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 26 1998, 643-696.

[2] V. Langlois, X. Jia, Acoustic probing of elastic behavior and damage in weakly cemented granular media, Phys. Rev. E 89 2014, 023206.

[3] A. Hemmerle, M. Schröter, L. Goehring, A cohesive granular material with tunable elasticity, Scientific reports 2016.

[4] Y. Khidas, X. Jia, Probing the shear-band formation in granular media with sound waves, Phys. Rev. E 85 2012, 051302.

[5] P.A. Johnson et al., Acoustic emission and microslip precursors to stick-slip failure in sheared granular media, Geophys. Res. Lett. 40 2013, 5627-5631.

How to cite: Canel, V., Jia, X., Campillo, M., and Ionescu, I. R.: Monitoring of damage processes in cemented granular materials with acoustic emissions and seismic velocity reduction, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21891, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-21891, 2020

D1225 |
Valerian Schuster, Erik Rybacki, Audrey Bonnelye, Anja Schleicher, and Georg Dresen

Studying the mechanical properties of argillaceous rocks is of major interest in geoscience. For example, these rocks are important in engineering applications such as being suitable cap-rocks for the geological storage of carbon dioxide and potential host rocks for the storage of nuclear waste. Furthermore, argillaceous rocks are encountered in different natural settings such as accretionary wedges or fault zones. As a result of their sedimentary and diagenetic history clay rich rocks are often characterised by multiscale textural anisotropy and compositional heterogeneity resulting in anisotropic mechanical and hydraulic properties.
Here, we studied the anisotropic deformation behaviour of Opalinus Clay, collected from the Mont Terri underground laboratory, which is the envisaged host rock formation for nuclear waste disposal in Switzerland. We used the sandy facies of Opalinus Clay, characterized by an irregular wavy lamination of quartz-rich and carbonate-cemented lenses with clay-rich interlayers. Unconsolidated-cylindrical samples cored at 0°, 45° and 90° to the macroscopically visible bedding were deformed in undrained constant strain rate experiments using a Paterson-type deformation apparatus. For each orientation, tests were performed at dry conditions varying either confining pressure (in the range of 50 - 100 MPa), temperature (25 - 200 °C) or strain rate (1*10-3 - 5*10-6 s-1) to study the influence of testing condition and sample orientation on the deformation behaviour. In addition, we deformed a set of back saturated samples at fixed conditions of 50 MPa, 100 °C and 5*10-4 s-1 to investigate the effect of water content on the material strength.
The results show semi-brittle deformation with low yield strength and strain weakening behaviour, in which strain is localized in sub-millimetre to millimetre-wide shear zones at all conditions. Increasing water content reduces, whereas increasing confining pressure increases the peak strength. Samples that were deformed parallel to bedding orientation exhibit the highest strength compared to samples with an orientation of 90° and 45° to bedding. Only for the latter orientations a weak correlation was found between temperature and failure behaviour. The variation of strain rate shows no clear influence for all orientations. Within this test series, there appears to be a potentially greater influence of the porosity on the peak strength for 45° and 90° oriented samples. Clay rich layers seem to have a strong influence on localization and formation of shear zones, in particular for samples oriented at 45° and 90° to bedding. This observation was confirmed by electron microscopy performed on broad ion beam polished surfaces of deformed sample material.
Our experiments reveal that water content, sample orientation with respect to bedding and confining pressure are the most important factors influencing the peak strength of the sandy facies of Opalinus Clay, whereas compositional heterogeneity is responsible for the localization behaviour.

How to cite: Schuster, V., Rybacki, E., Bonnelye, A., Schleicher, A., and Dresen, G.: Experimental Deformation of Sandy Opalinus Clay at Elevated Temperature and Pressure Conditions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4790, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-4790, 2020

D1226 |
Abdulwaheed Ògúnsàmì, Jan Borgomano, Jérôme Fortin, and Ian Jackson

To test theoretical models of modulus dispersion and dissipation in fluid-saturated rocks, we have investigated the broadband mechanical properties of four thermally cracked glass specimens of simple microstructure with complementary forced-oscillation (0.004 -100 Hz) and ultrasonic techniques (~1MHz). Strong pressure dependence of moduli (bulk, Young’s, and shear), axial strain, and ultrasonic wave speeds for dry conditions, attests to essentially complete crack closure at a confining pressure of 15 MPa – indicative of ambient-pressure crack aspect ratios mainly < 2 ´ 10-4.Oscillation of the confining pressure reveals bulk modulus dispersion and a corresponding dissipation peak, near 2 mHz only at the lowest effective pressure (2.5 MPa) – attributed to the transition with increasing frequency from the drained to saturated-isobaric regime. The observations are consistent with Biot-Gassmann theory, with dispersion and dissipation adequately represented by a Zener model.  Above the draining frequency, axial forced-oscillation tests show dispersion of Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio, and an associated broad dissipation peak centred near 0.3 Hz, thought to reflect local ‘squirt’ flow and adequately modelled with a continuous distribution of relaxation times over two decades. Observations of Young’s and shear modulus dispersion and dissipation from complementary flexural and torsional oscillation measurements for differential pressure ≤ 10 MPa provide supporting evidence of the transition with increasing frequency from the saturated-isobaric to the saturated-isolated regime – also probed by the ultrasonic technique. These findings validate predictions from theoretical models of dispersion in cracked media and emphasize need for caution in the seismological application of laboratory ultrasonic data for cracked media.

How to cite: Ògúnsàmì, A., Borgomano, J., Fortin, J., and Jackson, I.: Poroelastic relaxation in thermally cracked and fluid-saturated glass, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6001, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-6001, 2020

Chat time: Tuesday, 5 May 2020, 10:45–12:30

D1227 |
Martin Balcewicz and Erik H. Saenger

Digital rock physics (DRP) became a complementary part in reservoir characterization during the last two decades. Deriving transport, thermal, or effective elastic rock properties from a digital twin requires a three-step workflow: (1) Preparation of a high-resolution X-ray computed tomography image, (2) segmentation of pore and grain phases, respectively, and (3) solving equations due to the demanded properties. Despite the high resolution µ-CT images, the numerical predictions of rock properties have their specific uncertainties compared to laboratory measurements. Missing unresolved features in the µ-CT image might be the key issue. These findings indicate the importance of a full understanding of the rocks microfabrics. Most digital models used in DRP treat the rock as a heterogeneous, isotropic, intact medium which neglect unresolved features. However, we expect features within the microfabrics like micro-cracks, small-scale fluid inclusions, or stressed grains which may influence the elastic rock properties but have not been taken into account in DRP, yet. Former studies have shown resolution-issues in grain-to-grain contacts within sandstones or inaccuracies due to micro-porosity in carbonates, this means the micritic phase. Within the scope of this abstract, we image two different sandstone samples, Bentheim and Ruhrsandstone, as well as one carbonate sample. Here, we compare the mentioned difficulties of X-ray visualization with further analytical methods, this means thin section and focused ion beam measurements. This results into a better understanding of the rocks microstructures and allows us to segment unresolved features in the X-ray computed tomography image. Those features can be described with effective properties at the µ-scale in the DRP workflow to reduce the uncertainty of the predicted rock properties at the meso- and fieldscale.

How to cite: Balcewicz, M. and Saenger, E. H.: Digital rock physics: Segmentation of sub-resolution features, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6743, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-6743, 2020

D1228 |
Federica Sandrone, Lucas Pimienta, Laurent Gastaldo, and Marie Violay

How to cite: Sandrone, F., Pimienta, L., Gastaldo, L., and Violay, M.: Elastic properties of rocks: Why shouldn’t they be constant?, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16134, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-16134, 2020

D1229 |
Federica Paglialunga, François X. Passelègue, Mateo Acosta, and Marie Violay

Recent seismological observations highlighted that earthquakes are associated to drops in elastic properties around the fault zone (Brenguier et al., 2008). This drop is often attributed to co-seismic damage produced at the rupture tip, and can mostly be observed at shallow depths. However, it is known that in the upper crust, faults are surrounded by a zone of damage (Caine, Evans, & Forster, 1996). Because of this, the origin of the velocity change associated to earthquakes, as well as its recovery in the months following the rupture remains highly debated.

We conducted stick-slip experiments to explore the evolution of elastic waves velocities during the entire seismic cycle. The tests were run on saw-cut La Peyratte granite samples presenting different initial degrees of damage, obtained through thermal treatment. Three types of samples were studied: not thermally treated, thermally treated at 650 °C and thermally treated at 950 °C. Seismic events were induced in a triaxial configuration apparatus at different confining pressures ranging from 15 MPa to 120 MPa. Active acoustic measurements were carried through the whole duration of the tests and P-wave velocities were measured.


The evolution of P-wave velocity follows the evolution of the shear stress acting on the fault, showing velocity drops during dynamic slip events. The evolution of the P-wave velocity drops with increasing confining pressure shows two different trends; the largest drops can be observed for low confining pressure (15 MPa) and decrease for intermediate confining pressures (up to 45 MPa), while for confining pressures of 60 MPa to 120 MPa, drops in velocity slightly increase with confining pressure.

Our results highlight that at low confining pressures (15-45 MPa), the change in elastic velocity is controlled by the sample bulk properites (damage of the medium surrounding the fault), while for higher confining pressures (60-120 MPa), it might be the result of co-seismic damage.

These preliminary results bring a different interpretation to the seismic velocity drops observed in nature, attributed to co-seismic damage. In our experiments co-seismic damage is not observed, except for high confining pressures (laboratory equivalent for large depths), while the change in P-wave velocity seems to be highly related to combined stress conditions and initial damage around the fault for low confining pressures (laboratory equivalent for shallow depths).

How to cite: Paglialunga, F., Passelègue, F. X., Acosta, M., and Violay, M.: Origin of the temporal evolution of elastic properties during laboratory seismic cycle., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10679, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-10679, 2020

D1230 |
Marc S. Boxberg, Mandy Duda, Katrin Löer, Wolfgang Friederich, and Jörg Renner

Determining elastic wave velocities and intrinsic attenuation of cylindrical rock samples by transmission of ultrasound signals appears to be a simple experimental task, which is performed routinely in a range of geoscientific and engineering applications requiring characterization of rocks in field and laboratory. P- and S-wave velocities are generally determined from first arrivals of signals excited by specifically designed transducers. A couple of methods exist for determining the intrinsic attenuation, most of them relying either on a comparison between the sample under investigation and a standard material or on investigating the same material for various geometries.

Of the three properties of interest, P-wave velocity is certainly the least challenging one to determine, but dispersion phenomena lead to complications with the consistent identification of frequency-dependent first breaks. The determination of S-wave velocities is even more hampered by converted waves interfering with the S-wave arrival. Attenuation estimates are generally subject to higher uncertainties than velocity measurements due to the high sensitivity of amplitudes to experimental procedures. The achievable accuracy of determining S-wave velocity and intrinsic attenuation using standard procedures thus appears to be limited.

We pursue the determination of velocity and attenuation of rock samples based on full waveform modeling and inversion. Assuming the rock sample to be homogeneous - an assumption also underlying standard analyses - we quantify P-wave velocity, S-wave velocity and intrinsic P- and S-wave attenuation from matching a single ultrasound trace with a synthetic one numerically modelled using the spectral finite-element software packages SPECFEM2D and SPECFEM3D. We find that enough information on both velocities is contained in the recognizable reflected and converted phases even when nominal P-wave sensors are used. Attenuation characteristics are also inherently contained in the relative amplitudes of these phases due to their different travel paths. We present recommendations for and results from laboratory measurements on cylindrical samples of aluminum and rocks with different geometries that we also compare with various standard analysis methods. The effort put into processing for our approach is particularly justified when accurate values and/or small variations, for example in response to changing P-T-conditions, are of interest or when the amount of sample material is limited.

How to cite: Boxberg, M. S., Duda, M., Löer, K., Friederich, W., and Renner, J.: Determining P- and S-wave velocities and Q-values from single ultrasound transmission measurements performed on cylindrical rock samples: it’s possible, when…, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9178, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-9178, 2020

D1231 |
Nana Kamiya, Feng Zhang, and Weiren Lin

The mechanical behavior of soft rocks is dominated by the mechanical properties of the rock itself. Because soft rocks have different physical properties to hard rocks, it is essential to understand the mechanical behavior of soft rocks when tunnels and huge structures are constructed in these. Strain softening is the mechanical behavior of soil and rock materials and is important in understanding soft rock foundation. To investigate the mechanical behavior of siltstone, a sedimentary soft rock, we performed the one-dimensional consolidation tests (hereafter called K0-consolidation test) using a constant strain-rate loading system. We also took high-resolution X-ray CT images of the test specimens before and after the consolidation tests to observe the consolidation deformation. Using Quaternary siltstones distributed in the Boso Peninsula, central Japan as specimens, strain softening in the consolidation process was confirmed in some formations using two test machines at Kyoto University and Nagoya Institute of Technology.

All specimens yielded and the consolidation curves showed over- and normal-consolidation areas. Some specimens’ stress decreased suddenly at increasing strain just before yielding, which can be regarded as a real strain softening because no strain localization could be confirmed within specimens. The stress at the time of the softening differed even for specimens taken from the same formation. Furthermore, the micro-focus X-ray CT images indicated that the specimens had no macro cracks inside. This suggests that strain softening is not due to brittle failure in local areas but due to the softening of the framework structure of the siltstone itself. The samples used in this study are siltstone taken from the Quaternary forearc basin, whose development is related not only to consolidation but also tectonic effects such as horizontal compaction accompanied by plate subduction. Therefore, it is possible that the strain softening confirmed in this study reflects the micro cracks and internal structure that developed during siltstone formation.

How to cite: Kamiya, N., Zhang, F., and Lin, W.: Strain softening of siltstones in consolidation process using a constant strain-rate loading system, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12851, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-12851, 2020

D1232 |
Derek Leung, Florian Fusseis, and Ian Butler

The rocks used to produce curling stones for international competition are only sourced from two localities in the world: Ailsa Craig, Scotland and Trefor, Wales. Curling stones consist of two components: (1) the running band (the ring-shaped bottom surface of the stone which rests on the ice) and (2) the striking band (the convex band on the profile of stones which collides with those of other stones). With a focus on the striking bands, we aim to document the damage evolution of curling stones using synchrotron microtomography (3D characterisation of pristine samples and 4D damage evolution), optical and scanning electron microscopy (quantitative characterisation of pristine samples and microfracture characterisation of damaged striking bands), and petrophysical testing (fracture characteristics and comparative data). These data will be complemented by an on-ice experiment that will determine the mechanics (e.g., stress distribution, contact area, and velocity) of curling stone impacts. Out of four curling stone varieties (from Ailsa Craig and Trefor), we observe the striking bands of three varieties to show macroscopic, incipient to mature, curvilinear fractures. The curvature of these fractures is consistent and does not vary significantly between individual stones and between curling stone varieties. However, the degree of macroscopic fracture development differs between aged striking bands of curling stone types: Blue Trefor (macroscopic fractures not observed), Red Trefor (weakly incipient), Ailsa Craig Common Green (incipient to juvenile), and Ailsa Craig Blue Hone (juvenile to mature). Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine the degree of usage (age) of the selected samples and thus it is not possible to normalize these apparent differences in damage. Given that the striking band limits the lifetime of curling stones, understanding the damage evolution of curling stones can contribute valuable information to the maintenance of curling stones. The rock physics of curling stone impacts is linked to dynamic spalling and more broadly to rock failure, as these processes are ultimately related to the initiation and propagation of fractures.

How to cite: Leung, D., Fusseis, F., and Butler, I.: Microscale characterisation of damage evolution in curling stones used in international competition, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-902, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-902, 2019

D1233 |
Gloria Arienti, Matteo Pozzi, Anna Losa, Federico Agliardi, Bruno Monopoli, Andrea Bistacchi, and Davide Bertolo

We present a semi-automatic workflow aimed at extracting quantitative structural data from point clouds obtained with avionic and terrestrial laser scanners (Lidar and TLS). The workflow is characterized by a calibration phase followed by an automatic data-collection phase. The large datasets of “fractures” mapped in this way are analysed with statistical methods allowing to define representative parameters of the fracture network.

In the first phase, the intervention of an expert interpreter with structural geology skills is fundamental to evaluate which features can be interpreted as fractures in the point clouds. In the second phase, an automatic segmentation and classification is performed, based on phase 1 calibration, that allows extracting very large fracture datasets. The main steps in phase 1 are: manual segmentation of facets representing fracture surfaces, orientation analysis and definition of fracture sets (possibly supported by kinematic analysis), definition of orientation parameters to be used for automatic segmentation. Phase 2 analysis proceeds with the automatic segmentation of subset point clouds that include just one fracture set. In these point clouds, facets representing fractures lying on different planes are well separated and disconnected, and this allows applying automatic vectorization techniques that extract individual facets representing single fractures on the outcrop surface. The datasets issued from this processing are analysed with automatic algorithms allowing to define fracture spacing and orientation statistics with a very large support, that would not have been allowed by other methodologies.

How to cite: Arienti, G., Pozzi, M., Losa, A., Agliardi, F., Monopoli, B., Bistacchi, A., and Bertolo, D.: Quantitative characterization of fracture networks on Digital Outcrop Models obtained from avionic and terrestrial laser scanner, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22562, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-22562, 2020

D1234 |
Jingjing Xu, Yufei Feng, and Xuhai Tang

This work proposed an available approach to analyze the property evolution of weak interlayers during immersion softening at micro and macro scales, which combining the advantages of nanoindentation tests and numerical modelling. The weak interlayers has significant impact on the failure process of natural slopes, however, their properties are difficult to be obtained using traditional triaxial compression tests. Because these weak interlayers are consist of clay and rock fragments which leads to the difficult to prepare intact samples. Additionally, the softening properties of these weak interlayers are strongly related to their fillings at micro scale. In this work, the weak interlayers is investigated using nano-scale micromechanical tests and upscaling methodologies, so only small rock fragments are required (see Fig.1). 
In northwestern Hubei China, the mountains often developed several layers of weak interlayers with major lithology as shale which is sedimentary rock with low strength and dense clay particles. We investigated these shale fragments in weak interlayers, which is prone to decrease in strength induced by precipitation erosion. The Gaussian mixture model was used to analyze a large amount of data obtained by statistical grid nanoindentation method. Then the Mori-Tanaka scheme was used to homogenize the elastic properties of the samples and upscale the nanoindentation data to the macroscale. The hardness values which obtain by Berkovich and Cube corner indenter were able to assess the cohesion and friction angle of shale. Finally, these achieved parameters were applied in numerical model, in order to analyze the slope failure caused by the softening of weak interlayers (see Fig. 2).
The results show that: (1) the chlorite and muscovite minerals, which are major proportion of shale, soften or dissolve with the increasing saturation time. The fine mineral particles are gradually stripped from micro structure. As a result, at microscale the compact shale samples sale became loose. The strength of these shale samples are also decrease because water seeped through pores and micro cracks. (2) After water immersion, the friction angle is almost constant, while the elastic modulus and cohesion decrease significantly with increasing saturation time. (3) The shear strength decrease so that the shearing creep occurs along the weak interlayers surface, then bottom sliding surface is cut, which leads to landslide.

How to cite: Xu, J., Feng, Y., and Tang, X.: Investigate the softening properties of weak interlayers in slope failure process using nanoindentation test and simulation, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18394, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-18394, 2020

D1235 |
Jeongdu Noh and Seong-Seung Kang

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the rock in the extreme regions by conducting a field study and laboratory tests on three rocks of diorite, andesite, grano-diorite around Sejong Station in Antarctica. The King George Island, the research area, is mostly covered by glaciers and partially exposed bedrock along the coast. Around the coastal area and Sejong-bong, andesites, diorites, grano-diorites are distributed and were measured rebound values using Silver Schmidt hammer. This hammer, unlike conventional Schmidt value’s R, calculates Q values using input and output energy. As a result of field study, the average Q value of diorite was estimated 76, which is high compared others, and andesite was estimated 67, which is low compared others, grano-diorite was estimated 72, which is widely scattered. Freeze-Thawing test was performed based on ASTM C-666, KS F 2456. The temperature range of freeze-thawing test is from -20 ℃ to 20 ℃ referred to the published papers, and all rocks are completely saturated without humidity. The temperature holding time was set to 2 hours for temperature inside rock to -20 ℃ when the atmosphere temperature is -20 ℃. The freeze-thawing test was carried out every 20 cycles for porosity, absorption, and slaking durability. The laboratory tests were performed 200 times in total. As a result, up to 100 cycles, the porosity and absorption were not significantly different. Since then, they increased slightly. However, the slaking tended to increase gradually from the 0 cycle. In order to accurately assess the weathering of the three rocks, continuous freeze-thawing tests should be conducted.


Acknowledgement : This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea(NRF) grant funded by the Korea government(MIST (2019R1F1A1048854)

How to cite: Noh, J. and Kang, S.-S.: Geotechnical characteristics of rocks around the King Sejong Station in Antarctica by Freeze-Thawing test, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12430, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-12430, 2020

D1236 |
Minzy Kang and Chandong Chang

In situ stress state at shallow depths (<1 km) is important for designing underground systems for various projects such as nuclear waste disposal, carbon dioxide geological sequestration, and geo-resource development. Stress characterization for such projects rely largely on stress measurement data (such as hydraulic fracturing test data). We compile a large number of hydraulic fracturing test data measured in a total of 226 boreholes in South Korea, and attempt to characterize shallow crustal stress over the country. These data are measurements at depths down to 850 m, and classified mostly low-quality based on World Stress Map quality ranking scheme (B-quality: 7%, C: 42%, and D: 51%). We grid the country by 0.25°×0.25°, and find a circular bin size at each grid point using two statistical methods (weighted standard deviation and quasi interquartile range), by which the uniformity of stress orientation can be estimated. As many data are low-quality, we apply this process to two subsets of data (B-C and B-D) to find an optimal stress characterization. Our most optimal characterization results show that bin diameter in most of the country vary between 100 and 200 km, except for southeastern Korea. Bin diameters in southeastern Korea range between 0 and 60 km, which means that stress heterogeneity is especially significant in the region, where lithology varies markedly and several active faults are clustered. The stress orientations in the northeastern part of the country are characterized as intermediate stress uniformity (bin size of ~120 km in diameter) but a systematic horizontal stress rotation (up to ~60°) from that of the deep-seated regional stress. This region is mountainous with altitude as high as 1.4 km. To verify whether the stress rotation is a result of topographic effect, we model stress perturbation using the digital elevation model (DEM) data of the region, which yields stress rotation comparable to measurements. We find that lithology is a particularly important factor that affects stress magnitudes over the country, as the stress magnitudes at the same depth tend to be markedly smaller in sedimentary rocks than in crystalline rocks. Our study, although given data are of fairly low-quality, can provide a basis for shallow stress map of South Korea.

How to cite: Kang, M. and Chang, C.: Effects of topography and lithology variation on in situ stress at shallow depths in South Korea: results from statistical characterization of stress data, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8327, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-8327, 2020

D1237 |
Olga Hachay and Oleg Khachay

Self-organization is not a universal property of matter, it exists under certain internal and external conditions and this is not associated with a special class of substances. The study of the morphology and dynamics of migration of anomalous zones associated with increased stresses is of particular importance in the development of deep deposits, complicated by dynamic phenomena in the form of mountain impacts. An important tool for this study is geophysical exploration. To describe the geological environment in the form of an array of rocks with its natural and technogenic heterogeneity, one should use its more adequate description, which is a discrete model of the medium in the form of a piecewise inhomogeneous block medium with embedded heterogeneities of a lower rank than the block size. This nesting can be traced several times, i.e. changing the scale of the research, we see that heterogeneities of a lower rank now appear in the form of blocks for heterogeneities of the next rank. A simple averaging of the measured geophysical parameters can lead to distorted ideas about the structure of the medium and its evolution. We have analyzed the morphology of the structural features of disintegration zones before a strong dynamic phenomenon. The introduction of the proposed integrated passive and active geophysical monitoring into the mining system, aimed at studying the transient processes of the redistribution of stress-strain and phase states, can help prevent catastrophic dynamic manifestations during the development of deep-seated deposits. Active geophysical monitoring methods should be tuned to a model of a hierarchical heterogeneous environment. Iterative algorithms for 2-D modeling and interpretation for sound diffraction and a linearly polarized transversal elastic wave on the inclusion with a hierarchical elastic structure located in the J-th layer of the N-layer elastic medium are constructed. The case is considered when the inclusion density of each rank coincides with the density of the containing layer, and the elastic parameters of inclusion of each rank differ from the elastic parameters of the containing layer.

How to cite: Hachay, O. and Khachay, O.: Acoustic Monitoring of Anomalous Stressed Zones, Determination of their Positions, Surfaces, Evaluation of Catastrophic Risk., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-1322, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-1322, 2019

D1238 |
Zhuowu Xie and Xiyong Wu

Due to the large burial depth of the Pliocene Red Layer in Qingyang, Gansu and its special historical causes, its engineering mechanical characteristics are quite different from those of the southern red clay. Lack of systematic data on the internal forces of the lining structure through the stratum tunnel. Therefore, this paper takes the Yinchuan-Xian High-speed Railway Qingyang Tunnel as the research object, through field measurement and finite element simulation to obtain the space-time distribution characteristics of the internal force of the lining structure, the surrounding rock pressure, the deep displacement of the surrounding rock from 5 to 10 m, and the convergent deformation of the support. The reasons for the stress state of the lining-surrounding rock composite structure reflected in the results are analyzed, and the ABAQUS software is used to simulate the tunnel excavation process to compare and verify the lining structure stressing law. Internal force characteristics. The results show that: 1) The physical and mechanical indicators of the Pliocene red layer in the Neogene in Qingyang, Gansu belong to the extremely hard soil-very soft rock critical category. Due to the long consolidation pressure and long consolidation history, it can be obvious on the saturated flooding fault surface. Observation of the characteristics of layered joints proves that this layer of red clay has a tendency of sedimentary diagenesis. 2) The quality of the surrounding rock of the stratum lining structure is good. The horizontal in-situ stress is twice that of the vertical in-situ stress. It can be optimized for the design of III-IV surrounding rock while increasing the side pressure coefficient. 3) The unclosed initial support cannot effectively limit the deformation of the surrounding rock, and the temporary stress can be used to improve the state of stress. The numerical simulation results are consistent with the field measurement laws. 4) This stratum with severe deformation is the cave diameter range of the excavation boundary to the surrounding rock. The deformation area is mainly concentrated in the vault. Delayed excavation of the inverted arch can effectively reduce the stress on the internal lining structure of the inverted arch.

How to cite: Xie, Z. and Wu, X.: Study on Deformation and Force Characteristics of Deep-buried Large Section Expansive Red Clay Tunnel, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-2248, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-2248, 2020

D1239 |
Ilka Weikusat, David Wallis, Steven Franke, Nicolas Stoll, Julien Westhoff, Steffen Bo Hansen, Trevor James Popp, Frank Wilhelms, and Dorthe Dahl-Jensen

Drilling an ice core through an ice sheet (typically 2000 to 3000 m thick) is a technical challenge that nonetheless generates valuable and unique information on palaeo-climate and ice dynamics. As technically the drilling cannot be done in one run, the core has to be fractured approximately every 3 m to retrieve core sections from the bore hole. This fracture process is initiated by breaking the core with core-catchers which also clamp the engaged core in the drill head while the whole drill is then pulled up with the winch motor.


This standard procedure is known to become difficult and requires extremely high pulling forces (Wilhelms et al. 2007), in the very deep part of the drill procedure, close to the bedrock of the ice sheet, especially when the ice material becomes warm (approximately -2°C) due to the geothermal heat released from the bedrock. Recently, during the EastGRIP (East Greenland Ice coring Project) drilling we observed a similar issue with breaking off cored sections only with extremely high pulling forces, but started from approximately 1800 m of depth, where the temperature is still very cold (approximately -20°C). This has not been observed at other ice drilling sites. As dependencies of fracture behaviour on crystal orientation and grain size are known (Schulson & Duval 2009) for ice, we thus examined the microstructure in the ice samples close to and at the core breaks.


First preliminary results suggest that these so far unexperienced difficulties are due to the profoundly different c-axes orientation distribution (CPO) in the EastGRIP ice core. In contrast to other deep ice cores which have been drilled on ice domes or ice divides, EastGRIP is located in an ice stream. This location means that the deformation geometry (kinematics) is completely different, resulting in a different CPO (girdle pattern instead of single maximum pattern). Evidence regarding additional grain-size dependence will hopefully help to refine the fracturing procedure, which is possible due to a rather strong grain size layering observed in natural ice formed by snow precipitation.



Wilhelms, F.; Sheldon, S. G.; Hamann, I. & Kipfstuhl, S. Implications for and findings from deep ice core drillings - An example: The ultimate tensile strength of ice at high strain rates. Physics and Chemistry of Ice (The proceedings of the International Conference on the Physics and Chemistry of Ice held at Bremerhaven, Germany on 23-28 July 2006), 2007, 635-639

Schulson, E. M. & Duval, P. Creep and Fracture of Ice. Cambridge University Press, 2009, 401

How to cite: Weikusat, I., Wallis, D., Franke, S., Stoll, N., Westhoff, J., Hansen, S. B., Popp, T. J., Wilhelms, F., and Dahl-Jensen, D.: Issues with fracturing ice during an ice drilling project in Greenland (EastGRIP), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21768, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-21768, 2020

D1240 |
Antonio Pio Rinaldi, Yves Guglielmi, Alba Zappone, Florian Soom, Michelle Robertson, Paul Cook, Maria Kakurina, Quinn Wenning, Dorothee Rebscher, and Christophe Nussbaum

Tunnel excavations are known to perturb the hosting rock mass at long distances, with changes in the hydrogeological flow affecting, as well as deforming the rock mass, inducing subsidence in a zone above the tunnel. During the extension of the Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory, we had the unique opportunity to monitor the final part of the excavation of Gallery18 and the final breaktrough.

The joint effort of two experiments (CS-D lead by ETH Zurich and FS-B lead by LBNL) allowed for a detailed characterization of the poro-elastic response of the rock mass and the Mont Terri Main Fault Zone to the excavation. Geophysical, geomechanical, and hydrogeological monitoring include: (1) pressure monitoring in several borehole intervals; (2) deformation at a chain potentiometer and fiber optics grouted in boreholes (normal to bedding and parallel to fault zone), and platform-tilmeters installed at the tunnel floor, as well as detailed 3D displacement at the SIMFIP probe.

All monitoring systems detected major perturbations starting from 15 days before the breakthrough and continuing for several days after it. We summarize the observations and will combine numerical modelling and observed trend to conceptualized the pattern of poro-elastic deformation. The results of the analysis could help shedding light on the poro-elastic behaviour of clay, providing interesting hints for the modeling community and helping in planning of future nuclear waste repositories in such material.

How to cite: Rinaldi, A. P., Guglielmi, Y., Zappone, A., Soom, F., Robertson, M., Cook, P., Kakurina, M., Wenning, Q., Rebscher, D., and Nussbaum, C.: Coupled processes in clay during tunnel excavation, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18041, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-18041, 2020

D1241 |
Anne Voigtländer, Rachel C. Glade, and Jens M. Turowski

Reaching the top of a high mountain is a great experience, yet there seem to be several limits. One is the relief of the mountain itself, which constitutes the driving stress consisting of the height, h, and density, ρ of the mass, accelerated by gravity, g and modulated by the slope, α. The material strength required to balance this stress defines the limit to relief. There are three failure modes in which the material strength can be surpassed: shear, compression, and tension. Failure criteria established for shear and compression have been demonstrated to be useful in certain settings, but don’t hold in steep (50-90°), hard and rocky landscapes. For those, we propose a tensile strength limit criterion (TSL). Due to the Poisson effect of normal stress (σn), indirect tensile stresses (σt) arise near free surfaces. The magnitude of these stresses is defined by the Poisson’s ratio (ν) of the lithology and the relief. First-order estimates of different lithologies and their material properties are in good agreement with the height of cliffs and slopes of the same lithology. Similar to the approach by Schmidt and Montgomery (1995) predicting bulk, slope scale material properties from relief, we can invert the tensile strength limit criterion. By this, we can infer material tensile strength and Poisson’s ratio from the maximum slope heights and angle on Earth, and beyond!

In terms of dynamics, the tensile strength limit criterion (TSL) predicts critical yielding at the foot of the slope, causing surface parallel fractures that would lead to further critical yielding and failure slope upward. This pattern of progressive rock failure has been observed in steep rock walls, like El Capitan or Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

We propose this solely geometrically and stress-controlled criterion not contrary but in addition to existing limit criteria. Implications of the three failure limits to relief are that, (i) over-steepening doesn’t necessarily exist, as there is not only a threshold slope angle but also a threshold height, (ii) there is a transition from one dominant limit and failure mechanism to the other, shifting from shear failure and sliding to toppling and fall, and (iii) internal material property changes, due to chemical and/or mechanical weathering, and subcritical crack growth can evoke a progressive reorganisation of yielding and potential rock failure without external triggering events.

How to cite: Voigtländer, A., Glade, R. C., and Turowski, J. M.: 3 failure limits to relief, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-2348, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-2348, 2020

D1242 |
Diethard Sanders, Bastian Joachim-Mrosko, Jürgen Konzett, Julian Lanthaler, Marc Ostermann, and Peter Tropper

The P-T conditions in extremely-rapid gravity-driven rockslides are difficult to constrain from the descended rock mass itself. Here, we report mineralogical observations from the Koefels rockslide and their interpretation. The Koefels event – happened between 9527-9498 cal BP – comprises 3.9 km3 mainly of muscovite + biotite-bearing orthogneiss, and is one of the few large rockslides in silicate-bearing rocks worldwide. Detached by collapse of a valley flank, the rockslide impacted the opposite valley flank: While the lower part of the mass was sharply stopped, the overriding part propagated farther. This led to shear localization along discrete planes and, in consequence, to transient melting by frictional heating. The resulting frictionites comprise thin glassy levels with floating crystal fragments. The bulk composition of the glassy melt corresponds to the composition of the orthogneiss.

            In the frictionites, ultra-high pressure metamorphosed quartz (UPQ) occurs next to unaffected quartz in a glassy matrix. Micro-Raman spectroscopy of unaffected quartz yielded an intense A1 Raman mode at 464 cm-1 ; UPQ shows a shift of this band down to 460cm-1, with some grains showing an internal gradient of up to 3 cm-1 from the core (463cm-1) to the rim (460 cm-1). Some UPQ are rimmed by lechatelierite (SiO2 glass), which never surrounds unaffected quartz grains. Until now lechatelierite formation in frictionites was considered to be a function of temperature only (Heuberger et al. 1984). Because lechatelierite only rims UPQ with outward decreasing band numbers, we interpret lechatelierite formation to be mainly pressure-driven. The completely molten matrix and the lack of glassy rims at the edges of normal quartz indicates minimum temperatures of 900°C. Experimental investigations have shown that the shifted A1 mode of UPQ equilibrates to 464 cm-1 at 1100°C, thus giving an upper limit of the temperature range. The Raman shift of the A1 mode and the presence of lechatelierite strongly suggest that a pressure >23 GPa was attained (cf., McMillan et al. 1991, Fritz et al. 2011, Kowitz et al. 2013).

            The UPQ and lechatelierite rims formed by grain collisions during initial shear localization, when the shear plane was relatively cool. Next, upon rapid frictional heating the glassy frictionite matrix formed and became locally injected into lechatelierite rims. Once formed, the melt prevented high-energy grain collisions. Unaffected quartz (which nevertheless may have seen pressures up to 22 GPa) in the frictionites perhaps escaped UHP overprint due to position in local pressure shadows and/or was sheared out from the adjacent caciritic rock mass into the melt. Our results help to better constrain numerical simulations of P-T-conditions in rockslides. Since our investigation only provides limiting estimates the actual P-T conditions in deep shear levels of rockslides exceeding the volume of the Koefels event might be even higher.



Fritz et al. 2011: International Journal of Impact Engineering, 38:440

Heuberger et al. 1984: Mountain Research and Development, 4:345

Kowitz et al. 2013: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 384:17

McMillan et al. 1992: Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, 19:71

How to cite: Sanders, D., Joachim-Mrosko, B., Konzett, J., Lanthaler, J., Ostermann, M., and Tropper, P.: Petrological constraints on ultra-high pressure metamorphism and frictionite formation in a catastrophic rockslide: The Koefels event (Eastern Alps). , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4831, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-4831, 2020

D1243 |
Gaye Bayrakci, Timothy A. Minshull, Jonathan M. Bull, Timothy J. Henstock, Giuseppe Provenzano, Hamza Birinci, Calum Macdonald, and Robert Dunn

Scanner pockmark is an active and continuous methane venting seafloor depression of ~ 900 x 450 m wide and 22 m deep. It is located in the northern North Sea, within the Witch Ground basin where the seafloor and shallow sediments are heavily affected by pockmarks and paleo-pockmarks of various sizes. A seismic chimney structure is present below the Scanner pockmark. It is expressed as a near-vertical column of acoustic blanking below a bright zone of gas-bearing sediments. Seismic chimneys are thought to host connected vertical fractures which may be concentric within the chimney and align parallel to maximum compression outside it. The crack geometry modifies the seismic velocities, and hence, the anisotropy measured inside and outside of the chimney is expected to be different.


We carried out anisotropic P-wave tomography with a GI-gun wide-angle dataset recorded by the 25 Ocean Bottom Seismometers (OBSs) of the CHIMNEY experiment (2017). Travel times of more than 60,000 refracted phases propagating within a volume of 4 x 4 x 2 km were inverted for P-wave velocity and the direction and degree of P-wave anisotropy. The grid is centred on the Scanner Pockmark and has a y-axis parallel to -34o N. The horizontal node interval is denser in the zone covered by the OBSs and the vertical node interval is denser near the seabed. A 3 iteration inversion leads to a chi2 misfit value of 1 and a root-mean-square misfit of <10 ms. The results show a maximum P-wave anisotropy of 5%, and higher degrees of anisotropy correlates well with higher velocities. The fast P-wave velocity orientation, a proxy for fracture orientations, is 46o N. The top of the chimney possibly links a bright spot mapped at 270 ms in two way travel time using RMS amplitudes of MCS data, to the surface gas emission. The bright spot corresponds to low tomographic P-wave velocity and anisotropy, suggesting that gas is located in a zone with unaligned fractures or porosity. This observation is in good agreement with early multi-channel seismic data interpretations which suggested that the gas is trapped within a sandy clay layer, the Ling Bank Formation, capped by an upper clay layer, the Coal Pit Formation. In the next step, we will invert the travel-times of reflected phases in order to increase the image resolution.  

How to cite: Bayrakci, G., Minshull, T. A., Bull, J. M., Henstock, T. J., Provenzano, G., Birinci, H., Macdonald, C., and Dunn, R.: P-wave velocity anisotropy in an active methane venting pockmark: The Scanner Pockmark, northern North Sea, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5125, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-5125, 2020

D1244 |
Adam Robinson, Gaye Bayracki, Calum MacDonald, Ben Callow, Giuseppe Provenzano, Timothy Minshull, Mark Chapman, Timothy Henstock, and Jonathan Bull

Scanner pockmark, located in the Witch Ground Graben region of the North Sea, is a ~900 m by 450 m, ~22 m-deep elliptical seafloor depression at which vigorous and persistent methane venting is observed. Previous studies here have indicated the presence of chimney structures which extend to depths of several hundred meters, and which may represent the pathways along which upwards fluid migration occurs. A proposed geometry for the crack networks associated with such chimney structures comprises a background pattern outside the chimney with unconnected vertical fractures preferentially aligned with the regional stress field, and a more connected, possibly concentric fracture system within the chimney. The measurement of seismic anisotropy using shear-wave splitting (SWS) allows the presence, orientation and density of subsurface fracture networks to be determined. If the proposed model for the fracture structure of a chimney feature is correct, we would expect, therefore, to be able to observe variations in the anisotropy measured inside and outside of the chimney.

Here we test this hypothesis, using observations of SWS recorded on ocean bottom seismographs (OBS), with the arrivals generated using two different air gun seismic sources with a frequency range of ~10-200 Hz. We apply a layer-stripping approach based on observations of SWS events and shallow subsurface structures mapped using additional geophysical data to progressively determine and correct for the orientations of anisotropy for individual layers. The resulting patterns are then interpreted in the context of the chimney structure as mapped using other geophysical data. By comparing observations both at the Scanner pockmark and at a nearby reference site, we aim to further contribute to the understanding of the structures and their role in governing fluid migration. Our interpretation will additionally be informed by combining the field observations with analogue laboratory measurements and new and existing rock physics models.

This work has received funding from the NERC (CHIMNEY; NE/N016130/1) and EU Horizon 2020 programme (STEMM-CCS; No.654462).

How to cite: Robinson, A., Bayracki, G., MacDonald, C., Callow, B., Provenzano, G., Minshull, T., Chapman, M., Henstock, T., and Bull, J.: Fracture characterisation using frequency-dependent shear-wave splitting analysis of azimuthal anisotropy: application to fluid flow pathways at the Scanner Pockmark area, North Sea, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6669, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-6669, 2020

D1245 |
Tiantian Chen, Chun‘an Tang, and Yongyi Wang

The spacing of opening-mode fractures in layered materials, such as certain sedimentary rocks and laminated engineering materials, is often proportional to the thickness of fractured layers. Bai, Pollard & Gao (2000) investigated the full stress distribution between such fractures, from which they show that the spacing initially decreases as extensional strain increases in the direction perpendicular to the fractures. But at a certain ratio of spacing to layer thickness, no new fractures form and the additional strain is accommodated by further opening of existing fractures: the spacing then simply scales with layer thickness, which is called fracture saturation. Their conclusion is in marked contrast to existing theories of fracture, such as the stress-transfer theory, which predict that spacing should decrease with increasing strain ad infinitum. Here we show that the principle for 2D equal spaced fracture problem also applies to the 3D polygonal fracture problem. By using 3D mechanical modeling on a spherical shell model under interior expansion, we found that the modeled plate mosaic exactly follows the same principle that the size of formed plates is also proportional to the thickness of the fractured shell. By using a spherical shell model with isotropic, elastic two-layers, we numerically load the shell to fail under a quasistatical, slowly increasing interior pressure in a displacement controlling manner (induced, e.g., by gradual thermal expansion). The fractures only occur in the surface layer. The value at which a particular element breaks is random, but fixed at the start of the fragmentation process (i.e., the disorder is quenched). The probability distribution (PD) of breakdown thresholds is a material property and is known from the start. We account for this local randomness by assigning to each element a failure threshold taken from a Weibull probability distribution (PD), with a parameter defines the degree of material homogeneity, called the homogeneity index. We use a three-dimensional finite element code named RFPA (Rock Failure Process Analysis) to solve the problem. The modeling results show that, under conditions of uniform expansion force from inside the shell, the cracking pattern also follows a global scale law in terms of the thickness of the fractured layer. The numerical modeling demonstrates an important observation that, under conditions of uniform and layer-parallel tension induced by thermal expansion within the spherical shell, surface cracks spontaneously self-organize into quasi-hexagonal tessellations, following the mechanical principle that the hexagonal pattern relieves the greatest strain energy for the least work invested in nucleation and propagation of fractures. If this applies to the problems of Earth tessellations, called Platonics (Anderson, 2002), it implies that the thermal expanded Earth may breakup to form plate-like network as a consequence of thermal-expansion induced rift rather than mantle convective or plutonic causes, and the plate size may be proportional to the thickness of lithosphere. This provides a new explanation on how the plate number should be, and whether there is a pattern in the plate mosaic, issues related to the optimal sizes and shapes of plates in terms of fracture spacing.

How to cite: Chen, T., Tang, C., and Wang, Y.: How many plates?, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4707, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-4707, 2020