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AuthorsFortin, J. 
Stanchits, S. 
Vinciguerra, S. 
Guéguen, Y. 
TitleInfluence of thermal and mechanical cracks on permeability and elastic wave velocities in a basalt from Mt. Etna volcano subjected to elevated pressure
Issue Date2011
Series/Report no./503 (2011)
KeywordsElastic wave velocity
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.99. General or miscellaneous 
AbstractWe report simultaneous laboratory measurements of seismic velocities and fluid permeability on lava flow basalt from Etna (Italy). Results were obtained for dry and saturated samples deformed under triaxial compression. During each test, the effective pressure was first increased up to 190 MPa to investigate the effect of pre-existing crack closure on seismic properties. Then, the effective pressure was unloaded down to 20 MPa, a pressure which mirrors the stress field acting under a lava pile of approximately 1.5–2 km thick, and deviatoric stress was increased until failure of the specimens. Using an effective medium model, the measured elastic wave velocities were inverted in terms of two crack densities: ρi the crack density of the pre-existing thermal cracks and ρv the crack density of the stress-induced cracks. In addition a link was established between elastic properties (elastic wave velocities Vp and Vs) and permeability using a statistical permeability model. Our results show that the velocities increase with increasing hydrostatic pressure up to 190 MPa, due to the closure of the pre-existing thermal cracks. This is interpreted by a decrease of the crack density ρi from ~ 1 to 0.2. The effect of pre-existing cracks closure is also highlighted by the permeability evolution which decreases of more than two orders of magnitude. Under deviatoric loading, the velocities signature is interpreted, in the first stage of the loading, by the closure of the pre-existing thermal cracks. However, with increasing deviatoric loading newly-formed vertical cracks nucleate and propagate. This is clearly seen from the velocity signature and its interpretation in term of crack density, from the location of the acoustic emission sources, and from microstructural observations. This competition between pre-existing cracks closure and propagation of vertical cracks is also seen from the permeability evolution, and our study shows that mechanically-induced cracks has lesser influence on permeability change than pre-existing thermal cracks.
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