Aimed at supporting the hydraulic fracturing experiments in a vertical borehole in the Poorman phyllite at approximately 1500 m depth at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), we perform post-hydraulic fracturing experiment simulations and compare the simulated borehole pressure changes and flow rates with actual measurements using a newly developed fully coupled three-dimensional (3D) network flow and quasi-static discrete element model (DEM). The quasi-static DEM model, which is constructed by Delaunay tessellation of the rock volume, considers rock fabric heterogeneities by using the “disordered” DEM mesh and adding random perturbations to the stiffness and tensile/shear strengths of individual DEM elements and the elastic beam between them. A conjugate 3D flow network based on DEM lattice is constructed to calculate the fluid flow in both the fracture and porous matrix. One distinctive advantage of the DEM model is that fracturing is naturally described by the breakage of elastic beams between DEM elements. It is also extremely convenient to introduce mechanical anisotropy into the model by simply assigning orientation-dependent tensile/shear strengths to the elastic beams.

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