A fracture mapping and extended finite element scheme for coupled deformation and fluid flow in fractured porous media

Anthony R. Lamb, Gerard J. Gorman, Derek Elsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This paper presents a fracture mapping (FM) approach combined with the extended finite element method (XFEM) to simulate coupled deformation and fluid flow in fractured porous media. Specifically, the method accurately represents the impact of discrete fractures on flow and deformation, although the individual fractures are not part of the finite element mesh. A key feature of FM-XFEM is its ability to model discontinuities in the domain independently of the computational mesh. The proposed FM approach is a continuum-based approach that is used to model the flow interaction between the porous matrix and existing fractures via a transfer function. Fracture geometry is defined using the level set method. Therefore, in contrast to the discrete fracture flow model, the fracture representation is not meshed along with the computational domain. Consequently, the method is able to determine the influence of fractures on fluid flow within a fractured domain without the complexity of meshing the fractures within the domain. The XFEM component of the scheme addresses the discontinuous displacement field within elements that are intersected by existing fractures. In XFEM, enrichment functions are added to the standard finite element approximation to adequately resolve discontinuous fields within the simulation domain. Numerical tests illustrate the ability of the method to adequately describe the displacement and fluid pressure fields within a fractured domain at significantly less computational expense than explicitly resolving the fracture within the finite element mesh.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2916-2936
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number17
StatePublished - Dec 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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