Laboratory Study of Hydraulic Fracturing

by Gary W. Jaworski, (A.M.ASCE), Asst. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H. 03824,
H. Bolton Seed, (F.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, 440 Davis Hall, Berkeley, Calif. 94720,
James M. Duncan, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, Calif. 94720,

Serial Information: Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 6, Pg. 713-732

Document Type: Journal Paper


Laboratory tests on Teton Dam soil were performed by increasing the water pressure in model bore holes and in simulated rock joints. The water pressure required to cause hydraulic fracturing was found to depend on soil density, water content, confining stress and test duration. On the basis of the test results it was hypothesized that: (1)Hydraulic fracturing is a weak link phenomenon, in that fracturing will occur in the least resistant soil subjected to increased water pressure; and (2)hydraulic fracturing can probably occur only in the presence of a discontinuity, within which the water pressure can act to create a wedging mechanism, thus creating tensile stresses in the soil.

Subject Headings: Water pressure | Soil pressure | Laboratory tests | Hydraulic fracturing | Soil water | Soil stress | Soil tests | Hydrologic models

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