Reach and geometry of dynamic gas-driven fractures

Jiehao Wang, Derek Elsworth, Yunxing Cao, Shimin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Dynamic gas fracturing is a well stimulation technique that is able to create multiple fractures emanating from a wellbore. It operates by pressurizing at rise-times and peak pressures intermediate between conventional hydraulic fracturing and explosive fracturing. Two consecutive processes operate during this fracturing process: (i) generation and propagation of a dynamic stress wave that overpowers the static stress field and creates multiple radial fractures around borehole, followed by (ii) quasi-static pressurization and further extension of those starter-fractures by the expanding gas. Dynamic analysis is first performed to follow the evolution of the stress wave propagating from the borehole. The radial (r) distribution of peak tensile hoop-stress diminishes as 1/rα with the power exponent (α) asymptoting to 2 as the loading rate decreases. This rapid attenuation generally limits the length of the body-wave-generated radial fractures to several borehole radii. The gas-loading of the borehole wall is followed by permeation of the gas pressure into the newly created radial fractures. Linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) perturbation analysis shows that a regular distribution of multiple radial starter-cracks will preferentially propagate the longer cracks at the expense of the shorter cracks – that will arrest and snap-shut. This system naturally selects of the order of six dominant fractures that may grow in unison until the in situ stress field reasserts control as the fractures lengthen. This restricts the maximum number of the dominant fractures to of the order of six at the conclusion of treatment - a common observation in both in situ and laboratory experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104287
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
StatePublished - May 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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