Fracture Properties of Nash Point Limestone and Implications for Fracturing of Layered Carbonate Sequences

Nathaniel D. Forbes Inskip*, Philip G. Meredith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Carbonate reservoirs accommodate a significant proportion of global hydrocarbon reserves. However they are often tight and permeability is therefore usually dependent on either flow through existing fractures or through those produced by hydraulic stimulation. Hence, understanding how fracture networks develop in carbonate reservoir rocks is key to efficient and effective production. However, despite their prevalence as reservoir rocks, there is a paucity of data on key fracture properties of carbonate rocks, particularly in more than one orientation. Here, therefore we report measurements of both the tensile strength and fracture toughness of Nash Point limestone in the three principal fracture orientations to determine what effect any mechanical anisotropy might have on fracture propagation. We find Nash Point limestone to be essentially isotropic in terms of both its microstructure and its fracture properties. When comparing the fracture toughness of Nash Point limestone with that of others limestones, we find that fracture toughness decreases with increasing porosity, although this dependency is not as strong as found in other porous rocks. Finally, as many so-called carbonate reservoirs actually comprise layered sequences, we extend our analysis to consider the layered sequence of limestones and shales at Nash Point. We find that the fracture toughness of Nash Point limestone is higher than Nash Point shale but that the fracture energy is lower. We therefore discuss how the implications of fracturing through multi-layered sequences could be explored in future work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5155-5166
Number of pages12
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number10
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Fracture mechanics
  • Limestone
  • Mechanical stratigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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