Investigation of Influence Factors of the Fracture Toughness of Shale: A Case Study of the Longmaxi Formation Shale in Sichuan Basin, China

  • Jian XiongEmail author
  • Kaiyuan Liu
  • Lixi Liang
  • Xiangjun Liu
  • Chongyang Zhang
Original Paper


Based on the cracked chevron notched Brazilian disc method, the I-type fracture toughness of Longmaxi Formation shale is measured and the influence of different factors on the fracture toughness of the shales are also discussed. The results show that the fracture toughness of the cores drilled parallel to the bedding ranges from 0.4744 to 0.8752 MPa m0.5 and that of the cores drilled perpendicular to the bedding ranges from 0.4259 to 0.6159 MPa m0.5, which means that the fracture toughness of shale is significantly anisotropy. The clay minerals in the shales have a positive effect on shale fracture toughness while the brittle minerals in shale play a negative role on shale fracture toughness. Being through high temperature processes, the microstructures of the shales are damaged, resulting in lower fracture toughness. Due to the hydration of shales, the interaction between the shale and the water leads to the decrease in the fracture toughness. The increase in the immersion pressure also cause the fracture toughness to decrease.


Shale Longmaxi Formation CCNBD I-type fracture toughness Influence factors 



This research is supported by the National Science and Technology Major Project (Grant No. 2016A-3301), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41772151).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.


  1. Chen S, Zhu Y, Wang H, Liu H, Wei W, Fang J (2011) Shale gas reservoir characterization: a typical case in the southern Sichuan Basin of China. Energy 36:6609–6616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen J, Deng J, Yuan J, Yan W, Wei B, Tan Q (2015) Study on fracture toughness evaluation methods of shale reservoir type I and II. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 35(6):1101–1105Google Scholar
  3. Cui Z, Liu D, An G, Zhou M, Li Z (2010) Experimental study on determination of fracture toughness KIC of rock by v-cut Brazilian disc method. Rock Soil Mech 31(9):2743–2748Google Scholar
  4. Fan H, Zhang S, Gou X, Wang Q (2011) A new numerical calibration of the critical stress intensity factor of rock fracture toughness test specimen by CCNBD. Chin J Appl Mech 28(4):416–422Google Scholar
  5. Fischer M, Elsworth D, Alley R, Engelder T (1996) Finite element analysis of the modified ring test for determining mode I fracture toughness. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci Geomech Abstr 33(1):1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Guo H, Aziz N, Schmidt L (1993) Rock fracture-toughness determination by the Brazilian test. Eng Geol 33(3):177–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ISRM Testing Commission (1988) Suggested methods for determining the fracture toughness of rock. Int J Rock Mech Min Geomech Abstr 25(2):71–96Google Scholar
  8. ISRM Testing Commission (1995) Suggested method for determining mode I fracture toughness using cracked chevron notched Brazilian disc (CCNBD) specimens. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci Geomech Abstr 32:57–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kahraman S, Altindag R (2004) A brittleness index to estimate fracture toughness. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 41(2):343–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Li C (2013) Effect of temperature on fracture properties of rock materials. J Nanjing Inst Technol (Nat Sci Ed) 11(4):39–46Google Scholar
  11. Li G, Sheng M, Tian S, Ge H, Huang Z, Song X (2016) Discussion on basic problems of horizontal wells and fracturing engineering of shale gas reservoir. Chin Sci Bull 61(26):2883–2890Google Scholar
  12. Liang L, He S, Zhang A (2015a) The tests shale type I fracture toughness of CCNBD samples. West-China Explor Eng 35(6):1101–1105Google Scholar
  13. Liang L, Xiong J, Liu X (2015b) Experimental study on crack propagation in shale formations considering hydration and wettability. J Nat Gas Sci Eng 23:492–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liang L, Xiong J, Liu X (2015c) Mineralogical, microstructural and physiochemical characteristics of organic-rich shales in the Sichuan Basin, China. J Nat Gas Sci Eng 26:1200–1212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liang L, Zhuang D, Liu X, Xiong J (2017) Study on mechanical properties and failure modes of Longmaxi shale. Chin J Undergr Space Eng 13(1):108–116Google Scholar
  16. Liu X, Xiong J, Liang L, Luo C, Zhang A (2014) Analysis and influence discussion of shale wettability in Longmaxi Formation in south Sichuan area. Nat Gas Geosci 25(10):1644–1652Google Scholar
  17. Liu X, Xiong J, Liang L, Ding Y (2017) Investigation of the physico-chemical and mechanical properties of hard brittle shales from the Shahejie Formation in the Nanpu Sag, northern China. J Geophys Eng 14(3):445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lyu Q, Long X, Ranjith PG, Tan J, Kang Y, Wang Z (2018a) Experimental investigation on the mechanical properties of a low-clay shale with different adsorption times in sub-/super-critical CO2. Energy 147:1288–1298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lyu Q, Long X, Ranjith PG, Tan J, Kang Y (2018b) Experimental investigation on the mechanical behaviours of a low-clay shale under water-based fluids. Eng Geol 233:124–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ren W, Tian S, Li G, Sheng M, Yang R (2017) Modeling of mixed-gas adsorption on shale using hPC-SAFT-MPTA. Fuel 210:535–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tang T, Bažant Z, Yang S, Dan Z (1996) Variable-notch one-size test method for fracture energy and process zone length. Eng Fract Mech 55(3):383–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2013) Technically recoverable shale oil and shale gas resources: an assessment of 137 shale formations in 41 countries outside the United States.
  23. Wang Q, Xing L (1999) Determination of fracture toughness KIC by using the flattened Brazilian disk specimen for rocks. Eng Fract Mech 64(2):193–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wang Y, Dong D, Li J, Wang S, Li J, Wang L, Cheng K, Huang J (2012) Features of shale gas reservoir in Longmaxi Formation of lower Silurian in south Sichuan. Acta Petrol Sin 33(4):551–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wang T, Tian S, Li G, Sheng M, Ren W, Liu Q, Zhang S (2018) Molecular simulation of CO2/CH4 competitive adsorption on shale kerogen for CO2 sequestration and enhanced gas recovery. J Phys Chem C 122(30):17009–17018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wei X, Liu R, Zhang T, Liang X (2013) Micropore structure characteristics and development control factors of shale gas reservoir—a case study of Longmaxi Formation from south Sichuan to north Guizhou. Nat Gas Geosci 24(5):1048–1059Google Scholar
  27. Xiong J, Liu X, Liang L (2015) Experimental study on the pore structure characteristics of the Upper Ordovician Wufeng Formation shale in the southwest portion of the Sichuan Basin, China. J Nat Gas Sci Eng 22:530–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Yan C, Deng J, Wei B, Tan Q, Deng F, Zhu H, Hu L, Chen Z (2013) Study on collapse pressure of shale gas reservoir. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 32(8):1595–1602Google Scholar
  29. Yan J, Fan J, Wang M, Li Z, Hu Q, Chao J (2018) Rock fabric and pore structure of the Shahejie sandy conglomerates from the Dongying depression in the Bohai Bay Basin, East China. Mar Pet Geol 97:624–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Yang S, Tang T, Zollinger DG et al (1997) Splitting tension tests to determine concrete fracture parameters by peak-load method. Adv Cem Based Mater 5(1):18–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. You L, Kang Y, Chen Q, Fang C, Yang P (2017) The prospect of increasing shale gas recovery rate by oxidative explosion. Nat Gas Ind 37(5):53–61Google Scholar
  32. Yu J, Shang X, Wu P (2016) Theoretical analysis and experimental study of shale disc fracturing. Sci Sin Technol 46(2):135–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian Xiong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kaiyuan Liu
    • 2
  • Lixi Liang
    • 1
  • Xiangjun Liu
    • 1
  • Chongyang Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Oil and Gas Reservoir Geology and ExploitationSouthwest Petroleum UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.Technology Development Center, Southwest Branch of Eastern Geophysical CorporationChengduChina

Personalised recommendations