ABSTRACT: The nature of the fracture process zone varies from material to material depending upon the micro-structure, the constitutive behavior, the boundary condition and the loading rate to which the material is subjected. We investigated the micro-mechanics of the process zone development during hydraulic fracturing using a new 2-D dynamic network model which incorporates several types of material constitutive relationships. The modeling results suggest that the fracture pattern, the fracture branching behavior and the breakdown pressure are influenced considerably by the constitutive relationship of the material. The crack tip stress field and its evolution during the fracture propagation are also found to be informative in interpreting the process zone development.

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