Effects of stress on the anisotropic development of permeability during mechanical compaction of porous sandstones
Wenlu Zhu, Laurent G. J. Montési, Teng-Fong Wong, 2002. "Effects of stress on the anisotropic development of permeability during mechanical compaction of porous sandstones", Deformation Mechanisms, Rheology and Tectonics: Current Status and Future Perspectives, S. de Meer, M. R. Drury, J. H. P. de Bresser, G. M. Pennock
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To investigate the influence of stress on permeability anisotropy during mechanical compaction, a series of triaxial compression experiments with a new loading configuration called hybrid compression were conducted on three porous sandstones. The effective mean and differential stresses in hybrid compression tests were identical to those in conventional triaxial extension tests. Permeability was measured along the axial direction in both hybrid compression and conventional extension tests, which corresponds to flow along the maximum principal stress direction in the former case and the minimum principal stress direction in the latter case. Since their loading paths coincide, the comparison of permeability values from the two types of tests provides quantitative estimates of the development of permeability anisotropy as a function of effective mean and differential stresses. Our data show that the permeability evolution is primarily controlled by stress. Before the onset of shear-enhanced compaction C*, permeability and porosity reduction are solely controlled by the effective mean stress, with negligible stress-induced anisotropy. With the onset of shear-enhanced compaction and initiation of cataclastic flow, the deviatoric stress induces enhanced permeability and porosity reduction. The permeability tensor may show significant anisotropy. Our data indicate that the maximum principal component of permeability tensor k1 is parallel to the maximum principal stress σ1, and the minimum principal component k3 is parallel to the minimum principal stress σ3. During the initiation and development of shear-enhanced compaction, k1 can exceed k3 by as much as two orders of magnitude. With the progressive development of cataclastic flow, changes of permeability and porosity become gradual again, and the stress-induced permeability anisotropy diminishes as k1 and k3 gradually converge. Our data imply that permeability can be highly anisotropic in tectonic settings undergoing cataclastic flow, inducing the fluid to flow preferentially along conduits subparallel to the maximum compression direction. However, this development of permeability anisotropy is transient in nature, becoming negligible with an accumulation of strain of about 10%. The anisotropic development of permeability in a lithified rock is dominantly controlled by microcracking and pore collapse. This is fundamentally different from the mechanisms active in unconsolidated materials such as sediments and fault gouges, in which the permeability evolution is primarily controlled by the development of fabric and shear localization via the accumulation of shear strain.
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The motion and deformation of rocks are processes of fundamental importance in shaping the Earth, from outer crustal layers to the deep mantle. Reconstructions of the evolution of the Earth therefore require detailed knowledge of the geometry of deformation structures and their relative timing, of the motions leading to deformation structures and of the mechanisms governing these motions. This volume contains a collection of 22 papers on field, experimental and theoretical studies that add to our knowledge of these processes. They are a mixture of review papers oh selected topics in the field of structural geology and tectonics and papers on current issues and new techniques and are grouped into four themes:
The effect of fluids on deformation
The interpretation of microstructures and textures
Deformation mechanisms and rheology of crust and upper mantle minerals
Crust and lithosphere tectonics
The volume will appeal to researchers in the fields of structural geology and tectonophysics, both in academia and industry.