A three-phase XFEM model for hydraulic fracturing with cohesive crack propagation

Saeed Salimzadeh, Nasser Khalili

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A three-phase hydro-mechanical model for hydraulic fracturing is proposed. Three phases include: porous solid, fracturing fluid and host fluid. Discontinuity is handled using extended finite element method (XFEM) while cohesive crack model is used as fracturing criterion. Flow through fracture is defined as one-dimensional laminar flow, and flow through porous medium (host reservoir) is defined as two-dimensional Darcy flow. Coupling between two fluids in each space, fracture and pore, is captured through capillary pressure–saturation relationship, while the identical fluids in fracture and pore are coupled through a so-called leak-off mass transfer term. Coupling between fluids and deformation is captured through compatibility of volumetric strain of fluids within fracture and pore, and volumetric strain of the matrix. Spatial and temporal discretisation is achieved using the standard Galerkin method and the finite difference technique, respectively. The model is verified against analytical solutions available from literature. The leaking of fracturing fluid into the medium and suction of porous fluid into the fracture around the tip, are investigated. Sensitivity analyses are carried out for cases with slow and fast injection rates. It is shown that the results by single-phase flow may underestimate the leak-off.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputers and Geotechnics
Pages (from-to)82-92
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Coupled XFEM formulation
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Cohesive crack
  • Three-phase

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