Capillary and viscous fracturing during drainage in porous media

Francisco J. Carrillo, Ian C. Bourg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Detailed understanding of the couplings between fluid flow and solid deformation in porous media is crucial for the development of novel technologies relating to a wide range of geological and biological processes. A particularly challenging phenomenon that emerges from these couplings is the transition from fluid invasion to fracturing during multiphase flow. Previous studies have shown that this transition is highly sensitive to fluid flow rate, capillarity, and the structural properties of the porous medium. However, a comprehensive characterization of the relevant fluid flow and material failure regimes does not exist. Here, we used our newly developed multiphase Darcy-Brinkman-Biot framework to examine the transition from drainage to material failure during viscously stable multiphase flow in soft porous media in a broad range of flow, wettability, and solid rheology conditions. We demonstrate the existence of three distinct material failure regimes controlled by nondimensional numbers that quantify the balance of viscous, capillary, and structural forces in the porous medium, in agreement with previous experiments and granular simulations. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to effectively decouple the effects of viscous and capillary forces on fracturing mechanics. Last, we examine the effects of consolidation or compaction on said dimensional numbers and the system's propensity to fracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063106
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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