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Journal Articles ACS Earth and Space Chemistry Year : 2021

Quartz Stressing and Fracturing by Pore Pressure Dropping Down to Negative Pressure

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Abstract

In water-bearing porous rocks, pore pressure variations play a major role in deformation, through dissolution−precipitation and fracturing processes. An often-overlooked variation where pressure falls to negative pressure or tension can operate whenever aquifer formations dry out, for instance, in deep storage (nuclear or industrial wastes, long-term CO 2 mitigation, short-term energetic resources, etc.). This can generate capillary tension within the aquifers. This study investigates the mechanical effect of such in-pore tension in the surrounding crystal field, through laboratory experiments at the one-pore scale. Microthermometric procedures were carried out on synthetic fluid inclusions to generate large tensile stress and were combined with Raman microspectrometry to visualize the resulting stress fields in the host quartz. For comparison, we numerically modeled the stress field by linear elasticity theory. The experiments demonstrate that significant damage is produced in crystalline materials by the pore tension. Despite the induced stress measured by micro-Raman spectrometry to remain moderate, it is able to fracture the quartz. The volume of the cavity is a prominent controlling parameter for the stress amplitude. The crystalline heterogeneities of the solid are another major parameter for localizing the mean weak stress and accumulating overstress. Our results call for bringing pore-scale micromechanics into the safety assessment of the geological storage of various wastes inside depleted aquifers. They also show the magnifying effect of heterogeneities on propagating stress and localizing it along certain directions, promoting the final failure of water-bearing minerals, rocks, or pore networks.
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Dates and versions

insu-03130207 , version 1 (03-02-2021)

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Lionel Mercury, Emmanuel de Bilbao, Patrick Simon, Hugues Raimbourg, Isabelle Bergonzi, et al.. Quartz Stressing and Fracturing by Pore Pressure Dropping Down to Negative Pressure. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, 2021, 5 (2), pp.170-185. ⟨10.1021/acsearthspacechem.0c00224⟩. ⟨insu-03130207⟩
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