Coupled hydromechanical-fracture simulations of nonplanar three-dimensional hydraulic fracture propagation

P. Gupta, C. A. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an algorithm and a fully coupled hydromechanical-fracture formulation for the simulation of three-dimensional nonplanar hydraulic fracture propagation. The propagation algorithm automatically estimates the magnitude of time steps such that a regularized form of Irwin's criterion is satisfied along the predicted 3-D fracture front at every fracture propagation step. A generalized finite element method is used for the discretization of elasticity equations governing the deformation of the rock, and a finite element method is adopted for the solution of the fluid flow equation on the basis of Poiseuille's cubic law. Adaptive mesh refinement is used for discretization error control, leading to significantly fewer degrees of freedom than available nonadaptive methods. An efficient computational scheme to handle nonlinear time-dependent problems with adaptive mesh refinement is presented. Explicit fracture surface representations are used to avoid mapping of 3-D solutions between generalized finite element method meshes. Examples demonstrating the accuracy, robustness, and computational efficiency of the proposed formulation, regularized Irwin's criterion, and propagation algorithm are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-180
Number of pages38
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • GFEM
  • XFEM
  • fracture propagation
  • hydraulic fracturing
  • hydromechanical
  • multiphysics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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