Shear heating in creeping faults changes the onset of convection

TitleShear heating in creeping faults changes the onset of convection
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsR Tung, T Poulet, S Alevizos, E Veveakis, and K Regenauer-Lieb
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Start Page270
Pagination270 - 283
Date Published01/2017

The interaction between mechanical deformation of creeping faults and fluid flow in porous media has an important influence on the heat and mass transfer processes in Earth sciences. Creeping faults can act as heat sources due to the effect of shear heating and as such could be expected to alter the conditions for hydrothermal convection. In this work, we provide a finite element-based numerical framework developed to resolve the problem of heat and mass transfer in the presence of creeping faults. This framework extends the analytical approach of the linear stability analysis (LSA) frequently used to determine the bifurcation criterion for onset of convection, allowing us to study compressible cases with the option of complex geometry and/or material inhomogeneities. We demonstrate the impact of creeping faults on the onset of convection and show that shear heating-expressed through its dimensionless group the Gruntfest number Gr-has exponential influence on the critical value of the Lewis number Le (inversely proportional to the Rayleigh number Ra) required for convection: Lec ~ Lec0 eGr. In this expression, Lec0 is the critical value of Le in the absence of shear heating. This exponential scaling shows that shear heating increases the critical Lewis number and triggers hydrothermal convection at lower permeability than in situations without it. We also show that the effect of shear heating in a fault significantly alters the pattern of convection in and around the fault zone.

Short TitleGeophysical Journal International