Drilling-Induced Fractures in Your Hands! A Great Educational Tool for Geomechanics.

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Courtesy of Suzie Jia
Figure courtesy of Suzie Jia

It would be a great feeling to hold a borehole in the palm of your hand, turn it around, look at the propagated fractures around it, and ask yourself: “ok, why don’t these two fracture wings propagate in the same plane?” This was my experience when I was playing with the glass blocks with deviated boreholes drilled in them at Geoconvention this year. The fractured blocks were the results of photoelasticity tests performed at University of Alberta trying to simulate fracture initiation and propagation induced by drilling. The results show how different stress states can lead to formation of different types of fractures such as bi-wing, en echelon, bottomhole, and petal (see Jia et al., 2015 for more details). As can be observed in the figures here, the method proves to be an excellent mean for teaching geomechanics, a discipline that severely suffers from the lack of tangible educational resources.

Courtesy of Suzie Jia
Figure courtesy of Suzie Jia

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