Micro-macro analysis and phenomenological modeling of salt viscous damage and application to salt caverns
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This paper aims to gain fundamental understanding of the microscopic mechanisms that control the transition between secondary and tertiary creep around salt caverns in typical geological storage conditions. We use a self-consistent inclusion-matrix model to homogenize the visco-plastic deformation of halite polycrystals and predict the number of broken grains in a Representative Elementary Volume of salt. We use this micro-macro modeling framework to simulate creep tests under various axial stresses, which gives us the critical visco-plastic strain at which grain breakage (i.e. tertiary creep) is expected to occur. The comparison of simulation results for short-term and long-term creep indicates that the initiation of tertiary creep depends on the stress and the viscoplastic strain. We use the critical viscoplastic deformation as a yield criterion to control the transition between secondary and tertiary creep in a phenomenological viscoplastic model, which we implement into the Finite Element Method program POROFIS. We model a 850m-deep salt cavern of irregular shape, in axis-symmetric conditions. Simulations of cavern depressurization indicate that a strain-dependent damage evolution law is more suitable than a stress-dependent damage evolution law, because it avoids high damage concentrations and allows capturing the formation of a damaged zone around the cavity. The modeling framework explained in this paper is expected to provide new insights to link grain breakage to phenomenological damage variables used in Continuum Damage Mechanics.