The effect of fluid composition, salinity, and acidity on subcritical crack growth in calcite crystals

Bergsaker, Anne Schad; Røyne, Anja; Ougier-Simonin, Audrey; Aubry, Jérôme; Renard, François. 2016 The effect of fluid composition, salinity, and acidity on subcritical crack growth in calcite crystals. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 121 (3). 1631-1651.

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Chemically activated processes of subcritical cracking in calcite control the time-dependent strength of this mineral, which is a major constituent of the Earth's brittle upper crust. Here experimental data on subcritical crack growth are acquired with a double torsion apparatus to characterize the influence of fluid pH (range 5–7.5) and ionic strength and species (Na2SO4, NaCl, MgSO4, and MgCl2) on the propagation of microcracks in calcite single crystals. The effect of different ions on crack healing has also been investigated by decreasing the load on the crack for durations up to 30 min and allowing it to relax and close. All solutions were saturated with CaCO3. The crack velocities reached during the experiments are in the range 10−9–10−2 m/s and cover the range of subcritical to close to dynamic rupture propagation velocities. Results show that for calcite saturated solutions, the energy necessary to fracture calcite is independent of pH. As a consequence, the effects of fluid salinity, measured through its ionic strength, or the variation of water activity have stronger effects on subcritical crack propagation in calcite than pH. Consequently, when considering the geological sequestration of CO2 into carbonate reservoirs, the decrease of pH within the range of 5–7.5 due to CO2 dissolution into water should not significantly alter the rate of fracturing of calcite. Increase in salinity caused by drying may lead to further reduction in cracking and consequently a decrease in brittle creep. The healing of cracks is found to vary with the specific ions present.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 21699313
Date made live: 02 Aug 2016 09:24 +0 (UTC)

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