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Rock Damage and Fluid Transport, Part I

Mechanical properties and fluid transport in rocks are intimately linked as deformation of a solid rock matrix immediately affects the pore space and permeability. This may result in transient or permanent changes of pore pressures and effective pressures causing rock strength to vary in space and time. Fluid circulation and deformation processes in crustal rocks are coupled, producing significant complexity of mechanical and fluid transport behavior. This often poses severe technical and economic problems for reservoir and geotechnical engineering projects involved in oil and gas production, CO2 sequestration, mining and underground waste disposal. For example, the depletion of hydrocarbon and water reservoirs leading to compaction may have adverse effects on well production. Solution/precipitation processes modify porosity and affect permeability of aquifers and reservoir rocks. Fracture damage from underground excavation will critically influence the long-term stability and performance of waste storage. Part I of this topical volume covers mainly the nucleation and evolution of crack damage in rocks, new or modified techniques to measure rock fracture toughness and a discussion of upscaling techniques relating mechanical and fluid transport behaviour in rocks at different spatial scales. Part II, to be published later in 2006, will include studies investigating the coupling of rock deformation and fluid flow.
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