Hydraulic-mechanical properties of microfaults in granitic rock using the Punch-Through Shear test

Christian Kluge, Guido Blöcher, Auke Barnhoorn, David Bruhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Fault zones are key features in crystalline geothermal reservoirs or in other subsurface environments due to the fact that they act as main fluid pathways. An adequate experimental description of the evolution of permeability of a realistic microscopic fault zone under in-situ reservoir and fracture parallel flow conditions is required. To address this topic, we demonstrate a novel experimental set up (Punch-Through Shear test) that is able to generate a realistic shear zone (microfault) under in-situ reservoir conditions while simultaneously measuring permeability and dilation. Three samples of intact granite from the Odenwald (Upper Rhine Graben) were placed into a MTS 815 tri-axial compression cell, where a self-designed piston assembly punched down the inner cylinder of the sample creating the desired microfault geometry with a given offset. Permeability was measured and fracture dilation was inferred from an LVDT extensometer chain, as well as the balance of fluid volume flowing in and out of the sample. After fracture generation, the shear displacement was increased to 1.2 mm and pore pressure changes of ± 5 or ± 10 MPa were applied cyclically to simulate injection and production scenarios. Formation of a microfault increased the permeability of the granite rock by 2 to almost 3 orders of magnitude. Further shear displacement led to a small increase in permeability by a factor of 1.1 to 4.0, but permeability was reduced by a factor of 2.5 to 4 within 16 h due to compaction and fault healing. Effective pressure cycling led to reversible permeability changes. CT images showed that the fracture network is rather complex, but depicts all features commonly observed in larger scale fault zones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104393
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Aperture
  • Granite
  • Microfault
  • Permeability
  • Shear fracture
  • Sustainability


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