Damage and healing model of stiffness and permeability for salt rock: microstructure imaging, fabric processes and continuum mechanics
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In this study, we proposed a fabric-enriched Continuum Damage Mechanics model to investigate the coupled influence of damage and healing on the mechanical and transport properties of salt rock. In order to infer the form of fabric tensors, we carried out creep tests on granular salt assemblies under constant temperature and humidity conditions and used micro-computed tomography for microstructure characterization. Using microscope imaging and micro-CT scanning, we analyzed the probability distributions of crack radius, void areas and crack spacing and used them as a basis to derive macroscopic evolution laws. A stress path comprising a tensile loading, a compressive unloading, a creep-healing stage, and a reloading was simulated. As expected, stiffness decreases (respectively increases) and permeability increases (respectively decreases) upon damage (respectively healing). Results also highlight the increased efficiency of healing with temperature. The micro-macro relationships established by statistical image analysis also provide the evolution of microstructure descriptors during the test. Simulations show that permeability changes are controlled by changes in crack connectivity, which dominate changes of porosity. The proposed framework is expected to improve the fundamental understanding of coupled processes that govern microstructure changes and subsequent variations of stiffness and permeability in salt rock, which will allow the assessment of the long-term performance of geological storage facilities.