Multiscale coupling and multiphysics approaches in earth sciences : applications

Regenauer-Lieb, Klaus, Veveakis, Manolis, Poulet, Thomas, Wellmann, Florian, Karrech, Ali, Liu, Jie, Hauser, Juerg, Schrank, Christoph, Gaede, Oliver, Fusseis, Florian, & Trefry, Mike (2013) Multiscale coupling and multiphysics approaches in earth sciences : applications. Journal of Coupled Systems and Multiscale Dynamics, 1(3), pp. 281-323.

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Geoscientists are confronted with the challenge of assessing nonlinear phenomena that result from multiphysics coupling across multiple scales from the quantum level to the scale of the earth and from femtoseconds to the 4.5 Ga of history of our planet. We neglect in this review electromagnetic modelling of the processes in the Earth’s core, and focus on four types of couplings that underpin fundamental instabilities in the Earth. These are thermal (T), hydraulic (H), mechanical (M) and chemical (C) processes which are driven and controlled by the transfer of heat to the Earth’s surface. Instabilities appear as faults, folds, compaction bands, shear/fault zones, plate boundaries and convective patterns. Convective patterns emerge from buoyancy overcoming viscous drag at a critical Rayleigh number. All other processes emerge from non-conservative thermodynamic forces with a critical critical dissipative source term, which can be characterised by the modified Gruntfest number Gr. These dissipative processes reach a quasi-steady state when, at maximum dissipation, THMC diffusion (Fourier, Darcy, Biot, Fick) balance the source term. The emerging steady state dissipative patterns are defined by the respective diffusion length scales. These length scales provide a fundamental thermodynamic yardstick for measuring instabilities in the Earth. The implementation of a fully coupled THMC multiscale theoretical framework into an applied workflow is still in its early stages. This is largely owing to the four fundamentally different lengths of the THMC diffusion yardsticks spanning micro-metre to tens of kilometres compounded by the additional necessity to consider microstructure information in the formulation of enriched continua for THMC feedback simulations (i.e., micro-structure enriched continuum formulation). Another challenge is to consider the important factor time which implies that the geomaterial often is very far away from initial yield and flowing on a time scale that cannot be accessed in the laboratory. This leads to the requirement of adopting a thermodynamic framework in conjunction with flow theories of plasticity. This framework allows, unlike consistency plasticity, the description of both solid mechanical and fluid dynamic instabilities. In the applications we show the similarity of THMC feedback patterns across scales such as brittle and ductile folds and faults. A particular interesting case is discussed in detail, where out of the fluid dynamic solution, ductile compaction bands appear which are akin and can be confused with their brittle siblings. The main difference is that they require the factor time and also a much lower driving forces to emerge. These low stress solutions cannot be obtained on short laboratory time scales and they are therefore much more likely to appear in nature than in the laboratory. We finish with a multiscale description of a seminal structure in the Swiss Alps, the Glarus thrust, which puzzled geologists for more than 100 years. Along the Glarus thrust, a km-scale package of rocks (nappe) has been pushed 40 km over its footwall as a solid rock body. The thrust itself is a m-wide ductile shear zone, while in turn the centre of the thrust shows a mm-cm wide central slip zone experiencing periodic extreme deformation akin to a stick-slip event. The m-wide creeping zone is consistent with the THM feedback length scale of solid mechanics, while the ultralocalised central slip zones is most likely a fluid dynamic instability.

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ID Code: 69747
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Multiscaling, Multiphysics, Microstructure, Homogenisation, Complex Systems, Fluid Dynamics, Solid Mechanics, Geomechanics
DOI: 10.1166/jcsmd.2013.1021
ISSN: 2330152X
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 03 Apr 2014 00:04
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2014 22:55

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