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New project on numerical modelling of fracture systems

The Project, kindly supported by the Itasca Education Partnership (IEP), will explore the scaling of fracture length and opening displacement using the Distinct Element Method (DEM).

In this project a Distinct Element Method (DEM) approach (see figure), for which solving analytical solutions for a crack is not necessary but in which cracks propagate by breakage of linear elastic beams, will be used. The purpose of this modelling approach is to investigate the scaling of fracture length and opening displacement and the mechanical fracture interaction that emerges in a model which does not implement linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) at a small (element) scale. It will be tested whether LEFM predictions are consistent with the model results and to what extent the emergent fracture scaling depends on strength heterogeneity. The model results will be also compared to existing high quality outcrop data.



PFC-2D Distinct Element Method (DEM) model of opening mode fracture systems. Black horizontal lines are the locations of broken beams (fractures). Notice that there are a few large, but many small fractures suggesting a non-uniform (possibly power-law) distribution of fracture lengths. The opening displacements associated with these fractures will be analysed during the course of this project.


The project will be carried out by Ms Franziska Mayrhofer under the supervision of Martin Schöpfer and Bernhard Grasemann. Itasca Consulting Group is kindly supporting the project by providing a PFC-2D license and mentoring within the framework of the Itasca Education Partnership (IEP).

Department for Geodynamics and Sedimentology
University of Vienna

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A-1090 Vienna

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