ARMA Student Chapters  Online Talk:  Dr. Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte

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ARMA Student Chapters Online Talk: Dr. Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte

In this talk, Dr. Pyrak-Nolte will discuss the interplay between mineralogy and fracture geometry from numerical and laboratory works.

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Dr. Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte is a Distinguished Professor of Physics & Astronomy, in the College of Science, at Purdue University. She holds courtesy appointments in the Lyle School of Civil Engineering and in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, also in the College of Science. Currently she the President of the International Society for Porous Media, Vice-President for North America for the International Society of Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, and Past-President of the American Rock Mechanics Association. Prof. Pyrak-Nolte is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, recipient of the Reginald Fessenden Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and a Fellow of the American Rock Mechanics Association. Her interests include applied geophysics, experimental and theoretical seismic wave propagation, laboratory rock mechanics, micro-fluidics, particle swarms, and fluid flow through Earth materials.


The design and security of subsurface resource recovery and storage sites are strongly affected by pre-existing and induced fractures. Fractures provide the interfaces between the rock and the natural or engineered fluids that are injected, extracted, or sequestered in the subsurface. Modeling coupled processes in fractured media requires assumptions about fracture geometry, specifically the aperture distribution of the fracture voids through which fluids flow. While there are many idealized choices for aperture distributions, the choice of aperture distribution is often uncoupled from the context of the mineralogy of the rock.

In this presentation, the interplay between mineralogy and fracture geometry are demonstrated from laboratory and numerical simulations that show the role of: (1) depositional layers and mineral fabric on the formation of fracture geometry under mixed mode loading; and (2) mineral banding on geochemical alteration of fracture geometry. The results of these studies suggest that assumptions about fracture aperture distributions for numerical models can be constrained by knowledge of rock mineralogy which can be obtained from borehole logging, core samples and rock outcrops.