An implicit joint-continuum model for the hydro-mechanical analysis of fractured rock masses

Hosung Shin, Carlos Santamarina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Fractures control the hydro-mechanical behavior of rock masses. Explicit numerical analyses require detailed information on fracture properties, spacing, and orientation. This paper advances an implicit joint-continuum model for the coupled hydro-mechanical analysis of regularly spaced-persistent fractured rock masses. The stiffness tensor combines the compliance of each fracture set and the intact rock; similarly, the permeability tensor adds the fluid transport through fractures and the matrix. The fully coupled hydro-mechanical analysis incorporates the rock mass stiffness and permeability tensors, and satisfies force equilibrium and macroscopic fluid mass balance. We implement the implicit joint-continuum model within a finite element framework and verify the numerical simulator against closed-form solutions for simple boundary conditions. The application of the code to the hydraulic stimulation of a fractured rock mass shows the effect of stress anisotropy and fracture orientation on the development of open-mode discontinuities (i.e., hydraulic fracture) and hydro-shearing. The implicit joint-continuum model can be readily extended to more complex coupled processes, including thermal and chemical phenomena.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-148
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
StatePublished - May 15 2019


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