A shearing apparatus was used in conjunction with a Hassler-style core holder to incrementally shear fractured shale cores while maintaining various confining pressures. Computed tomography scans were performed after each shearing event, and were used to obtain information on evolving fracture geometry. Fracture transmissivity was measured after each shearing event to understand the hydrodynamic response to the evolving fracture structure. The digital fracture volumes were used to perform laminar single phase flow simulations (local cubic law with a tapered plate correction model) to qualitatively examine small scale flow path variations within the altered fractures. Fractures were found to generally increase in aperture after several shear slip events, with corresponding transmissivity increases. Lower confining pressure resulted in a fracture more prone to episodic mechanical failure and sudden changes in transmissivity. Conversely, higher confining pressures resulted in a system where, after an initial setting of the fracture surfaces, changes to the fracture geometry and transmissivity occurred gradually. Flow paths within the fractures are largely controlled by the location and evolution of zero aperture locations. A reduction in the number of primary flow pathways through the fracture, and an increase in their width, was observed during all shearing tests.
Crandall, D., Moore, J., Gill, M., & Stadelman, M. (2017). CT scanning and flow measurements of shale fractures after multiple shearing events. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, 100, 177–187. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrmms.2017.10.016