Modeling acoustic emissions in heterogeneous rocks during tensile fracture with the Discrete Element Method
A computationally efficient and open sourced methodology designed for the investigation of rock matrix heterogeneities and their effect on pre- and post- fracture Acoustic Emission (AE) distributions is presented. First, an image analysis method is proposed for building a statistical model representing rock heterogeneity. The statistical model is generalized and implemented into a discrete element contact model where it efficiently simulates the presence of defects and locally tough regions. The coupling of the heterogeneity model, discrete element model, and acoustic emission model is demonstrated using a numerical three point bending test. The shape parameter of the statistical model, which controls heterogeneity magnitude, is found to control the spatial width of the acoustic emission distribution generated during failure. The same acoustic emission distribution trend is observed in literature for rocks containing various magnitudes of heterogeneity. Further analysis of the numerical AE activity reveals that larger AE events are located directly along the fracture and they are linearly related to their number of constituent interactions. As such, an AE interaction count threshold is identified to distinguish between fracture and damage AE activity. These results demonstrate the ability of the presented methodology to investigate the location and energy release associated with large fracture events for various levels of heterogeneity.