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Research Project B05

Hydromechanics of fractures and fracture networks: A combined numerical multi-scale and experimental investigation


Research Project B05 plans to cooperate closely on image-based characterisation and physical investigation of fractured rock with the group of Jens Birkholzer and Seiji Nakagawa at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL, Berkeley).

A lively exchange of principal investigators and doctoral researchers between Berkeley and Stuttgart has existed for many years, especially in the field of fractured porous media systems. Recently LBNL has built an advanced laboratory for investigating the physics of hydraulic fracturing.


We characterise static and evolving fluid-saturated fractures and fracture networks with high-resolution X-ray Computed Tomography. Besides the characterisation of the geometries of fractures, we aim for the quantification of the fractures’ apertures. This allows for the characterisation of hydro-mechanical coupling effects and the validation of combined numerical investigations. The experiments are performed in an X-ray-transparent triaxial cell under defined confining pressure and axial stresses. The experimental results are the basis for the adjacent quantification of coarse-grained effective material properties.

For further information please contact

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Prof. Dr.-Ing.

Holger Steeb

Principal Investigator

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Prof. Dr.-Ing.

Wolfgang Nowak

Principal Investigator