James M. Campbell, Deren Ozturk, and Bjørnar Sandnes
Phys. Rev. Applied 8, 064029 – Published 29 December 2017
Gas-driven fracturing underlies both natural and industrial processes, such as volcanic degassing, methane venting, stimulated hydrocarbon extraction, and treatment of contaminated soil. The authors show how in such a complex system the capillary, frictional, and viscous interactions together produce a range of fracture patterns, with cracks separated by a characteristic length that varies based on the conditions. Discovering how material properties and injection rate affect these patterns helps to establish a physics framework for optimizing permeability and assessing risk in gas-driven fracturing of hydrocarbon reservoirs and remediation of polluted soil.