Impact of second phase content on rock salt rheological behavior under cyclic mechanical conditions

Martin-Clave, Carla; Ougier-Simonin, Audrey; Vandeginste, Veerle. 2021 Impact of second phase content on rock salt rheological behavior under cyclic mechanical conditions. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, 54. 5245-5267.

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Safe Underground Gas Storage (UGS) can be achieved in artificial, salt caverns to meet fluctuations in energy demand by providing adequate knowledge on rock salt when subjected to similar cyclic conditions. In this study, we performed cyclic mechanical tests on five rock salt samples with different types and amounts of second-phase mineral content. A confining pressure of 25 MPa was applied, whilst the axial stress was cycled between 4.5 and 7.5 MPa, at 0.5 kN/s loading rate, during 48 h (7200 cycles). The results demonstrate that high second-phase content such as anhydrite layering operates as a strength weakening agent by accommodating larger brittle deformation in comparison to samples with a lower content in secondary minerals. This rheological behavior is further exacerbated by the cycling mechanical conditions and recorded by a marked step on Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio value evolution. The microstructure analysis reveals how halite grains accommodate most of the deformation induced by the cyclic mechanical loading conditions through brittle deformation with microfracturing network development. Other structures from different deformation mechanisms are also discussed. Two types of new porosity are observed: (i) pores around isolated crystals of second-phase minerals as a result of grain rotation under cyclic mechanical deformation, and (ii) microcracks in areas with high concentration of secondary minerals (such as anhydrite, polyhalite, carnallite, or kieserite). This porosity change has strong implications for both the mechanical behavior of the material and its potential permeability.

Item Type: Publication - Article
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ISSN: 0723-2632
Date made live: 05 May 2021 14:39 +0 (UTC)

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