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Authors: Maccaferri, Francesco* 
Smittarello, Delphine* 
Pinel, Virginie* 
Cayol, Valerie* 
Title: On the Propagation Path of Magma‐Filled Dikes and Hydrofractures: The Competition Between External Stress, Internal Pressure, and Crack Length
Issue Date: 25-Apr-2019
Series/Report no.: /20 (2019)
DOI: 10.1029/2018GC007915
Keywords: Magmatic dykes
Numerical symulations
Analogue experiments
Subject Classification04.08. Volcanology 
05.05. Mathematical geophysics 
Abstract: Mixed‐mode fluid‐filled cracks represent a common means of fluid transport within the Earth's crust. They often show complex propagation paths which may be due to interaction with crustal heterogeneities or heterogeneous crustal stress. Previous experimental and numerical studies focus on the interplay between fluid over-pressure and external stress but neglect the effect of other crack parameters. In this study, we address the role of crack length on the propagation paths in the presence of an external heterogeneous stress field. We make use of numerical simulations of magmatic dike and hydrofracture propagation, carried out using a two‐dimensional boundary element model, and analogue experiments of air‐filled crack propagation into a transparent gelatin block. We use a 3‐D finite element model to compute the stress field acting within the gelatin block and perform a quantitative comparison between 2‐D numerical simulations and experiments. We show that, given the same ratio between external stress and fluid pressure, longer fluid‐filled cracks are less sensitive to the background stress, and we quantify this effect on fluid‐filled crack paths. Combining the magnitude of the external stress, the fluid pressure, and the crack length, we define a new parameter, which characterizes two end member scenarios for the propagation path of a fluid‐filled fracture. Our results have important implications for volcanological studies which aim to address the problem of complex trajectories of magmatic dikes (i.e., to forecast scenarios of new vents opening at volcanoes) but also have implications for studies that address the growth and propagation of natural and induced hydrofractures.
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