Mechanical and transport constitutive models for fractures subject to dissolution and precipitation

Derek Elsworth, Hideaki Yasuhara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Transient changes in the permeability of fractures in systems driven far-from-equilibrium are described in terms of proxy roles of stress, temperature and chemistry. The combined effects of stress and temperature are accommodated in the response of asperity bridges where mineral mass is mobilized from the bridge to the surrounding fluid. Mass balance within the fluid accommodates mineral mass either removed from the flow system by precipitation or advection, or augmented by either dissolution or advection. Where the system is hydraulically closed and initially at equilibrium, reduction in aperture driven by the effects of applied stresses and temperatures will be augmented by precipitation on the fracture walls. Where the system is open, the initial drop in aperture may continue, and accelerate, where the influent fluid is oversaturated with respect to the equilibrium mineral concentration within the fluid, or may reverse, if undersaturated. This simple zero-dimensional model is capable of representing the intricate behavior observed in experiments where the feasibility of fracture sealing concurrent with net dissolution is observed. This zero-order model is developed as a constitutive model capable of representing key aspects of changes in the transport parameters of the continuum response of fractured media to changes in stress, temperature and chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-549
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • General Materials Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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