Multiphysics Lattice Discrete Particle Modeling (M-LDPM) for the Simulation of Shale Fracture Permeability

Weixin Li, Xinwei Zhou, J. William Carey, Luke P. Frash, Gianluca Cusatis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


A three-dimensional multiphysics lattice discrete particle model (M-LDPM) framework is formulated to investigate the fracture permeability behavior of shale. The framework features a dual lattice system mimicking the mesostructure of the material and simulates coupled mechanical and flow behavior. The mechanical lattice model simulates the granular internal structure of shale, and describes heterogeneous deformation by means of discrete compatibility and equilibrium equations. The network of flow lattice elements constitutes a dual graph of the mechanical lattice system. A discrete formulation of mass balance for the flow elements is presented to model fluid flow along cracks and intact materials. The overall computational framework is implemented with a mixed explicit–implicit integration scheme and a staggered coupling method that makes use of the dual lattice topology enabling the seamless two-way coupling of the mechanical and flow behaviors. The proposed model is used for the computational analysis of shale fracture permeability behavior by simulating triaxial direct shear tests on Marcellus shale specimens under various confining pressures. The simulated mechanical response is calibrated against the experimental data, and the predicted permeability values are also compared with the experimental measurements. Furthermore, the paper presents the scaling analysis of both the mechanical response and permeability measurements based on simulations performed on geometrically similar specimens with increasing size. The simulated stress strain curves show a significant size effect in the post-peak due to the presence of localized fractures. The scaling analysis of permeability measurements enables prediction of permeability for large specimens by extrapolating the numerical results of small ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3963-3981
Number of pages19
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Dual lattice
  • Fracture permeability
  • Hydro-mechanical coupling
  • Lattice discrete particle model
  • Triaxial direct shear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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