Multiscale modelling of hydraulic fracture in shales: a combined experimental - simulation approach

Short term visitor's project

In this project, a novel approach for modeling hydraulic fracture in shale across scales will be devised. While hydraulic fracture has been used in the petroleum industry for decades, the coupled hydro-mechanical features at the fracture scale (mm-cm) are poorly understood. New research in collaboration between Caltech and the 3SR Lab is shedding unprecedented access to the hydraulic fracture process in the laboratory and at the fracture scale, with the possibility of looking at important features such as the lag between the fracture tip in the solid (shale) and the invading fluid front within the fracture. These bleeding-edge experimental observations of the phenomena pose crucial questions and challenges to current simulation paradigms:

  • at what scale should the permeability and deformability of the rock be captured? What are the most appropriate modeling frameworks (e.g., discrete, continuum) to capture the features observed in the laboratory?
  • Should the rock be considered impermeable and linear elastic as most paradigms currently do?


The objective of this short duration visitor grant is to work with colleagues in 3SR Lab and come up with a multiscale modeling strategy that can couple the hydro-mechanical features observed in the laboratory experiments of hydraulic fracture in shale using X-ray and neutron radiography. If successful, this project would provide unprecedented access to and knowledge of the physics behind a crucial industrial process such as hydraulic fracture in real rocks.


  • PI: José E. Andrade
  • Co-PI: Cino Viggiani
  • Visitor: José E Andrade


  • California Institute of Technology (USA)
  • 3SR