Assessment of method to model slip of isolated, non-planar fractures using 3DEC
Paper in proceedings, 2015

The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company are planning to construct a permanent storage facility for high-level nuclear waste at about 500 m depth in fractured crystalline rock. One potential concern for the long-term performance of the repository relates to large fracture shear displacements, since these may damage intersected waste containers. Although details in fracture surface geometries are known to influence slip magnitudes and distributions, fractures are commonly approximated as planar features with lab-scale properties due to lack of relevant field-scale data and to limitations in available modelling tools. The purpose of the work described in this paper is to explore the possibilities to use the distinct element code 3DEC to generate and analyze models with isolated, non-planar fractures and, based on the results of such models, get perspectives on the influence of basic disturbances such as ridges, steps and waves. Given the model set-up, fracture segments with orientations deviating from the critical one will contribute to stabilize the fracture. As a result, all analyzed non-planar fractures slip less than the critically oriented planar fracture. We demonstrate that the angle of deviation is the most influential parameter determining the slip magnitude for comparable surface geometries. Similarly inclined steps and ridges have almost equal slip reductions despite differences in surface area restricting the movement. Although it may be possible to translate the influence of such irregularities to an effective coefficient of friction that could be used as input to models with idealized planar fractures, additional analyses with randomly shaped and distributed asperities, different fracture sizes and with alternative stress loads, need to be carried out to devise a defensible strategy for this type of parameter variation.


Shear displacements

Nuclear waste repository

Non-planar fracture

Numerical modelling

fracture network


Margareta Lönnqvist

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, GeoEngineering

H. Hökmark

Clay Technology AB

ISRM Congress 2015 Proceedings - Int’l Symposium on Rock Mechanics

Vol. Volume 2015 1-11

13th ISRM International Congress of Rock Mechanics
Montreal, Canada,

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Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

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