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Faults simulations for three-dimensional reservoir-geomechanical models with the X-FEM

N. Sukumar's picture

J.-H. Prevost and N. Sukumar

Faults are geological entities with thicknesses several orders of magnitude smaller than the grid blocks typically used to discretize reservoir and/or over-under-burden geological formations. Introducing faults in a complex reservoir and/or geomechanical mesh therefore poses significant meshing difficulties. In this paper, we consider the strong-coupling of solid displacement and fluid pressure in a three-dimensional poro-mechanical (reservoir-geomechanical) model. We introduce faults in the mesh without meshing them explicitly, by using the extended finite element method (X-FEM) in which the nodes whose basis function support intersects the fault are enriched within the framework of partition of unity. For the geomechanics, the fault is treated as an internal displacement discontinuity that allows slipping to occur using a Mohr-Coulomb type criterion. For the reservoir, the fault is either an internal fluid flow conduit that allows fluid flow in the fault as well as to enter/leave the fault or is a barrier to flow (sealing fault). For internal fluid flow conduits, the continuous fluid pressure approximation admits a discontinuity in its normal derivative across the fault, whereas for an impermeable fault, the pressure approximation is discontinuous across the fault. Equal-order displacement and pressure approximations are used. Two- and three-dimensional benchmark computations are presented to verify the accuracy of the approach, and simulations are presented that reveal the influence of the rate of loading on the activation of faults.

To appear in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids

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