PhD in Geosciences: Impacts of rheological DISCOntinuities on fluid-assisted rock FRACturing

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    Le Mans Université
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    27/05/2021 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    France › Le Mans


LPG (Laboratory of Planetology and Geodynamics) is a multi-site research center located in Nantes-Angers-Le Mans. This PhD work will be carried out in the Geosciences Research Center in Le Mans. The PhD project is a part of an international research program funded by the European Union (MSCA RISE H2020) and relates to a collaborative research with PGP of Oslo (Physics of Geological Processes). Overall, 12 international research institutions and 70 participants, led by the University of Le Mans, constitute the European research program “DISCO2STORE” (DIScontinuities in CO2 STOrage Reservoirs). This project aims to study the role of discontinuities in fluid-assisted fracturing, especially in relation to CO2 storage. Indeed, CO2 storage appears to be an interesting solution to reduce human impact on climate. Nevertheless, its application requires a better understanding of the rheology of rocks serving as reservoirs. The objective of the PhD work is to study the role of discontinuities in the development of fluid-assisted fractures networks (Fig.1).

In sedimentary basins, fluid-assisted fracturing is very common (water, hydrocarbons, magmas). Although theory can predict fracturing geometries, natural examples show more complex structures and networks of fractures (e.g. Gallandetal., 2014; Rabbeletal., 2020; Ukar et al., 2020; Zanella et al. 2015). Rheological discontinuities (anisotropy, bedding, ...) appear as key physical parameters in the generation and propagation of such fracturing (Ravier et al., 2020; Larmier et al., 2020; Zanella & Garreau, 2019) (Fig. 2&3). In order to investigate the physical parameters responsible for complex fracturing geometries, this PhD project will: i) make a synthesis of fractures network geometries developed by fluid actions in sedimentary formations of low permeability (such as shales of the Vaca Muerta Formation, Argentina; ii) build innovative and scaled experimental laboratory setups to represent natural field observations and to account for several physical parameters, for instance anisotropy and the presence of major discontinuities; iii) correlate natural examples with experimental data.

First of all, the candidate will carry out an exhaustive synthesis of the bibliography on fluid-assisted fracturing in granular materials (natural data, experimental and numerical modeling). She/he will perform fieldwork (winter 2021–2022) to collect natural data from analog rocks located in the Andes, Argentina. Second, the candidate will develop 2D and 3D experimental models to study the role of anisotropy and rheological discontinuities in the generation and propagation of fluid-assisted fractures. The PhD project will be integrated in the European research program “DISCO2STORE” and related to the research collaboration with PGP Oslo. Thus, the candidate will participate in regular seminars and workshops organized in the framework of the larger research program. She/he will regularly present her/his results in order to share data with other researchers and teams participating in the project. The candidate will also participate in international conferences and produce scientific papers. Regular research trips, included in the European research program, are planned to facilitate interactions with international partners (YTEC, PGP Oslo).

The PhD project has 2 major focuses:

  • Detailed fieldwork allowing the synthesis of fracture geometries in natural examples. This part of the work will be performed by the studying of low permeable sediments at the Vaca Muerta Formation, Argentina. Geometrical and petro-physical measurements o frocks and fractures will be carried out. Depending on the progress of the research, other fieldwork can be organized in order to compare data with other sedimentological formations, for example the Aïke Formation, Austral Basin, or the shales of the oriental cordillerain Colombia.
  • The second focus is the study of key physical parameters, such as anisotropy and major rheological discontinuities involved in complex fracture geometries. Innovative and scaled experimental setups (2D & 3D) will be built in this part of the project in order to represent fluid migration in granular materials.

More Information


Gross monthly salary: 1769 €/month – 1950 €/months with teaching duties

Selection process

Doctoral school contest


Additional comments

Research funding: MSCA RISE H2020 “DISCO2STORE: 2021–2025”

Web site for additional job details

Offer Requirements

    Geosciences: Master Degree or equivalent
Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Laboratoire de Géosciences Le Mans
Le Mans
Avenue Olivier Messiaen

EURAXESS offer ID: 625450


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