Speaker(s): Luc Scholtes 

Date: Thursday 12th March 2020 - 1:00 pm

Location: Meeting room, ENSG Bat E, Nancy.


Predicting the strength of shale rocks is a basic but nonetheless critical requirement when designing CO2 or nuclear wastes storages. Even though geologic structures need to be considered above the meter scale when evaluating the strength of such systems, the intact rock behavior has to be thoroughly characterized before any further analysis. A particular feature of shale rocks is that they present highly nonlinear failure envelopes. Interestingly, despite this unanimously observed behavior, the linear Mohr-Coulomb criterion is still widely used in engineering practice (see for instance the petroleum or reservoir geomechanics taught in university courses). Of course, non-linear strength criteria exist and should thus be considered more systematically when dealing with shale rocks (see for instance the criterion proposed by Singh). Nonetheless, as practical as they are for assessing the integrity of geologic materials, these formulations (empirical for the most of them) do not explain the underlying mechanisms involved in the failure processes. As a matter of fact, shale rocks present anisotropic structures, characterized by laminations, parallel layering or bedding features. These fabric properties induce a strong anisotropic behavior which directly controls the strength of shale rocks. It is thus crucial to consider such characteristics to better understand the associated failure mechanisms. In this work, we describe the dependency of Tournemire shale strength on the orientation of the loading relative to the bedding over a large range of confining pressures (from 2 to 80 MPa) based on a comprehensive series of experimental tests. Then, we assess the relevance of two practical empirical failure criteria to describe Tournemire shale strength. Finally, we simulate the triaxial tests performed on Tournemire shale using a specifically developed anisotropic discrete element model to get further insights into the mechanisms controlling its strength.