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The formation of compaction bands in porous brittle rocks such as sandstones and carbonates has a significant impact on the localization mechanisms preceding earth and planetary surface instabilities such as earthquakes, landslides, and plate boundary faults. The micromechanics underpinning the dynamics of the formation of compaction bands and its effect on alteration of pore fluid pathways are not yet fully understood. The current study seeks to understand the mechanical properties of compaction in highly porous carbonate at micro- and macro-scale using time-lapse triaxial experiments in an X-ray transparent flow and deformation cell. Images were obtained with increasing axial strain levels using X-ray computed tomography allowing mapping of the evolution of internal structures. In addition to the X-ray analysis, digital image correlation (DIC) was used to quantify the evolution of strain and precisely identify the nucleation mechanism of compaction bands and its dynamics. The effect of friction on the boundary platens was shown to be minimal as evidenced by shear strain obtained from DIC analysis. This comprehensive analysis allowed assessment of the role of heterogeneity for the initiation of compaction bands. Local regions with high porosity provide the initial seeds for discrete compaction followed by the nucleation of traveling waves that lead to diffuse growth of the compaction zone. This interesting phenomenon is expected to be a fundamental mode of compressional deformation in porous brittle media where discrete, often periodic, deformation bands are observed on compaction. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
Chen, X., Roshan, H., Lv, A., Hu, M., & Regenauer-Lieb, K. (2020). The dynamic evolution of compaction bands in highly porous carbonates: the role of local heterogeneity for nucleation and propagation. Progress in Earth and Planetary Science, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40645-020-00344-0