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Numerical simulation of fracking in shale rocks: current state and future approaches

Hattori, G.; Trevelyan, J.; Augarde, C.E.; Coombs, W.M.; Aplin, A.C.

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G. Hattori


Extracting gas from shale rocks is one of the current engineering challenges but offers the prospect of cheap gas. Part of the development of an effective engineering solution for shale gas extraction in the future will be the availability of reliable and efficient methods of modelling the development of a fracture system, and the use of these models to guide operators in locating, drilling and pressurising wells. Numerous research papers have been dedicated to this problem, but the information is still incomplete, since a number of simplifications have been adopted such as the assumption of shale as an isotropic material. Recent works on shale characterisation have proved this assumption to be wrong. The anisotropy of shale depends significantly on the scale at which the problem is tackled (nano, micro or macroscale), suggesting that a multiscale model would be appropriate. Moreover, propagation of hydraulic fractures in such a complex medium can be difficult to model with current numerical discretisation methods. The crack propagation may not be unique, and crack branching can occur during the fracture extension. A number of natural fractures could exist in a shale deposit, so we are dealing with several cracks propagating at once over a considerable range of length scales. For all these reasons, the modelling of the fracking problem deserves considerable attention. The objective of this work is to present an overview of the hydraulic fracture of shale, introducing the most recent investigations concerning the anisotropy of shale rocks, then presenting some of the possible numerical methods that could be used to model the real fracking problem.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 5, 2016
Online Publication Date Jan 29, 2016
Publication Date Apr 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jan 18, 2016
Journal Archives of Computational Methods in Engineering
Print ISSN 1134-3060
Electronic ISSN 1886-1784
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 2
Pages 281-317
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (867 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were

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