DGMK Project 718: Mineral Vein Dynamics Modeling


P6: Modelling Fracture Sealing (VeinGrowth)

Picture_768 - fracsimage

Researchers: Simon Virgo, Max Arndt, Ben Laurich

Supervisors: Janos Urai, Daniel Köhn (University of Glasgow), Stephen Cox (ANU, Canberra), Steffen Abe, Christoph Hilgers (Reservoir Petrology, RWTH-Aachen)

Link to the FRACs Research Consortium website: www.fracs.de
Link to the DGMK project description: DGMK PDF
This study is carried out within the framework of DGMK (German Society for Petroleum and Coal Science and Technology) research project 718 "Mineral Vein Dynamics Modelling", which is funded by the companies ExxonMobil Production Deutschland GmbH, GDF SUEZ E&P Deutschland GmbH, RWE Dea AG and Wintershall Holding GmbH, within the basic research programme of the WEG Wirtschaftsverband Erdöl- und Erdgasgewinnung e.V. We thank the companies for their finacial support and their permission to publish our results.

Main aims:

  1. A main aim of this project is to understand the role of existent veins, which act as heterogenities to fracturing depending on orientation and their sealing-driven strength regeneration. Existent veins significantly influence the formation of new fractures and largely control the geometry of a vein network.
  2. To improve the understanding of crystal growth from oversaturated fluids in fractures is the other major aim of this project. Crystal growth appears as a back-coupled system with fluid flow and material transport in fractures. The growth of crystals and the growth of the vein respectively is influenced by the stress state in the system as this might open the fracture again. The chemical compatibility of fluid and host rock plays a key role in determination of vein-host rock interface strength and therefore the vein growth kinematics (antitaxial vs syntaxial).

Detailed research objectives:

  • 2D in situ crystal growth experiments with deformation.
  • 2D Numerical modeling of vein microstructures in ELLE (VeinGrowth).
  • 3D Discrete element modeling (DEM) of vein network geometries and mechanical heterogenities (with ESyS Particle).
  • Analogue modeling of vein network geometries and mechanical heterogenities (examples).
  • Remote sensing on high-resolution outcrop panoramas that serve as a natural example database.

Crack-Seal vein networks in Oman


High resolution outcrop panorama of a dense crack-seal calcite vein network.
Top surface of Natih A formation (Turonian). Western flank of Jabal Shams, Oman Mountains.
See the map to the right for the location.
Picture_769 - Discotheque outcrop Jabal Shams Oman Mountains

Show Pavement on a bigger map! (CLICK)

FRACs news

Max' paper "Changes in fluid pathways in a calcite vein mesh (Natih Formation, Oman Mountains): insights from stable isotopes" is available online. Click here.
Max paper "Changes in fluid pathways in a calcite vein mesh (Natih Formation, Oman Mountains): Insights from stable isotopes" has been accepted for publication in Geofluids. Download a preprint here.
Simon's paper on DEM simulation of fracturing in heterogeneous media is now in press in JGR! Click here for a preprint!
Max's manuscript on fluid flow systems in Omani carbonates is in review by Geofluids. Come back soon for more information.
This Friday (April 19th, 2013) Frank Wendler (KIT) will give a talk about Phase-Field modeling of Polycrystal Growth in Fractures. Room 408, 13:30, Haus A, Lochnerstraße 4-20. Flyer: here!
Dr. Steffen Abe is leaving our team by end of February. Today during our weekly seminar he gives an overview on the "discrete element modeling" he has been doing the last 6 years in Aachen. Please join us at 12:30 room 408.
The Paper by Steffen and Michael on 3D modelling of boudinage has been accepted for publication in JGR! Download the preprint here!

Simon's, Max's and Zoe's paper on the "Development of fault and vein networks in a carbonate sequence near Hayl al Shaz, Oman Mountains" is in press (GeoArabia). Download a preprint here!


Andrea's paper "Meshless Numerical Modeling of Brittle-Viscous Deformation: First Results on Boudinage and Hydrofracturing Using a Coupling of Discrete Element Method (DEM) and Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH)" has been accepted for publication in Computational Geosciences.

Next Monday (September 17th) at 14:30h Prof. Stephan Matthai (Montan University of Leoben) will give a talk entitled

"What field-data based numerical simulations can teach us about fluid flow in Naturally Fractured Hydrocarbon Reservoirs

at GED Room 4.08 (Lochnerstrasse 4-20, haus A).
Everybody interested is kindly invited.
This Friday - June 29th, 12am @ Lecture room 408 - Prof. Paul Bons (Tübingen University) will give a talk titled: "Hydrothermal fluid flow and exhumation". Faculty members and students are cordially invited. Bring your own lunch!
This week, the 9th of February Sofie Nollet will give a NUGGED seminar. Title of the talk will be: Importance of fault zone geometry in hydrocabon exploration & production. 12 o'clock, room 4.08, 4th floor, Lochnerstrasse 4-20, Haus A, Aachen.
We have updated our section on this year's EGU general assembly in Vienna. Have a look!
EGU 2012: And there is a third session hosted by one of our group members: "TS9.3/GD8.8 - Discrete Element Method (DEM) simulations in geoscience - Methods and Applications". Convener: Steffen Abe (Aachen, Germany), Dion Weatherley (Queensland, Australia) and Einat Aharonov (Jerusalem, Israel). Shortlink: http://bit.ly/EGU-DEM
EGU 2012: We also would like to drag your attention to session "Faults, fractures and fluid flow". Please consider your abstract submission! The session is organized by Nicola De Paola (Durham), Irfan Ghani (Mainz) , Daniel Koehn (Glasgow) , Max Arndt (Aachen) , Fabrizio Balsamo (Parma).
You are kindly asked to re-share this announcement! Shortlink: http://bit.ly/EGU-Faults-Fracture-Fluidflow
Upcoming 3-day short course "Structure, permeability and fluid flow at depth in the Earth's crust". October 11th - 13th. Lecturer is Professor Stephen Cox (ANU). More information: http://bit.ly/Cox11Shortcourse.
MSc-students, PhD-students and PostDocs are welcome to apply!

Upcoming 2 days short course on "geologic trapping of buoyant fluids" at our institute the 13th-14th of October, held by Peter Vrolijk and Franco Corona from ExxonMobil. No tuition fees for Master-students, PhD-students & Post Docs. More information at here.


Next week the 28th of July Koen van Noten (KU Leuven) will give a NUGGED seminar. Title of Koen's talk is - Analysing the Rursee quartz veins: a unique insight into the early Variscan tectonic inversion. 12 o'clock, room 4.08, 4th floor, Lochnerstraße 4-20, Haus A, Aachen.

We are more than happy to announce that Prof. Stephen Cox from the Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES) at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra will spend a six month sabbatical with us. Stephen plans to start in early August. He'll be working on the FRACs-project and veins in general. Welcome Stephen!
We congratulate our students Alexander Raith, Patrick Wüstefeld and Sebastian Thronberens for receiving the 1st poster price of the 2011 Geotag at RWTH-Aachen. They presented a poster on their BSc thesis with the title "How to take an outcrop home?". Have a look at their theses here.
During the annual general assembly of the VAG Alexander and Patrick were honored for their outstanding BSc. graduate during the VAG's annual general assembly last Friday.

Joyce' paper on the interaction of migrating grain boundaries and fluid inclusions is published in Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology.

The BSc-theses of Alexander Raith (thesis), Patrick Wüstefeld (thesis) and Sebastian Thronberens (thesis), all dealing with high detail observations of crack-seal networks in Oman, using stereophotography and gigapixel panoramas, are now online at the RWTH Library!
Visit our talks and poster presentations at the EGU this week!
Tomorrow in the NugGed seminar series: Simon Virgo - The role of veins as mechanical anisotropies in rocks and their influence to fracturing: scenes from a crack seal vein network. March 17th 2011, room 4.12 4th floor, 12 o' clock, Lochnestraße 4-20, Haus A, Aachen.

Tomorrow in the NUGGED Seminar series: Max Arndt Modeling Mineral Vein Dynamics. March 10th 2011, room 4.12. 4th floor, 12 o'clock, Lochnerstraße 4-20, Haus A, Aachen.

Find an overview of all our contributions to EGU 2011 here.

January 31st, 1Live Radio did a short radio interview with Max Arndt, about life and work in Al Hamra! Listen to it here!

As part of the "5 vor 12" - The RWTH Science night, visit the foto exposition "GUtech - RWTHs orientalische Tochter" ("GUtech - the oriental daughter of the RWTH"), in the Kármán-Auditorium, Eilfschornsteinstr. 15, Aachen, between November 12th and November 26th.
The MSc thesis of Max and Simon is now available on the webserver of the RWTH library!




Patrick Wuestefeld
Capturing a world-class outcrop of a quality calcite vein network on a polished limestone outcrop in the Oman Mountains : creation of a high resolution panorama and microstructural vein description. BSc theis. Supervised by Janos Urai, Structural Geology, Tectonics and Geomechanics, RWTH Univeristy. 73 pages. Available online (2010)
Alexander Raith
Creation of a high resolution panorama, capturing a high density calcite vein network from a polished limestone outcrop in the Oman Mountains. BSc theis. Supervised by Janos Urai, Structural Geology, Tectonics and Geomechanics, RWTH Univeristy. 53 pages. Available online (2010)
Sebastian Thronberens
High resolution imaging of a large calcite vein network from a polished limestone outcrop in the Oman Mountains : image acquisition, initial stereophotogrammetry and first interpretation. BSc theis. Supervised by Janos Urai, Structural Geology, Tectonics and Geomechanics, RWTH Univeristy. 66 pages. Available online (2010)
Simon Virgo, Max Arndt
Evolution of a crack-seal calcite vein network in limestone : a high resolution structural, microstructural and geochemical study from the Jebel Akhdar high pressure cell, Oman Mountains. MSc-thesis, Geologie - Endogene Dynamik, RWTH Aachen University. (2010)
Ben Laurich
Multiscale analysis of the structural evolution of the southern flank of the Western Jabal Akhdar Anticline, Oman (vein examination, structural mapping and inverse remote sensing). MSC theis. Supervised by Janos Urai, Structural Geology, Tectonics and Geomechanics, RWTH Univeristy. 118 Pages Available online (2010)


Max Arndt, Simon Virgo, Zoe Soebisch, Marc Holland, Christoph Hilgers, Janos Urai
A World-class Exposure of a Fossil High Pressure Cell on the Southern Flank of Jabal Shams in the Oman Mountains. Al Hajar , FEB2010 (16), 3-7. (2010)


Steffen Abe, Janos Urai
Discrete element modeling of boudinage: Insights on rock rheology, matrix flow, and evolution of geometry. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 117, B01407, 13 PP., 2012 doi:10.1029/2011JB008555 (2012)
Stephan Becker, Christoph Hilgers, Peter A. Kukla, Janos Urai
Crack-seal microstructure evolution in bi-mineralic quartz-chlorite veins in shales and siltstones from the RWTH-1 well, Aachen, Germany. Journal of Structural Geology 33 (4): 676-689 (2011)


Max Arndt, Simon Virgo, S. F. Cox, Janos Urai
Changes of fluid flow regimes in a complex calcite vein network (Natih Formation, Oman Mountains): Insights from Stable Isotope Analysis. Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 14, EGU2012-12097, 2012 EGU General Assembly 2012 (2012)
Simon Virgo, Steffen Abe, Janos Urai
DEM modeling of fracture propagation in veined rock. EGU General Assembly 2012. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 14, EGU2012-7426, 2012. (2012)
Max Arndt, Simon Virgo, E. Gomez-Rivas, Paul Bons, Daniel Koehn, Janos Urai
The Structural Evolution of the Jabal Akhdar Dome, Oman Mountains. New Insights from High-Resolution Studies and Field Observations. DGMK/GEW Veranstaltung Frühjahrstagung, pp. Poster. Montag, 11. April 2011. (2011)
Ben Laurich, Max Arndt, Simon Virgo, Alexander Raith, Patrick Wuestefeld, Sebastian Thronberens, Janos Urai
Insights in dynamics of high-pressure cells based on high-resolution outcrop panoramas: A geometry database for calcite vein networks in the Oman Mountains. EGU General Assembly. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 13, pp. EGU2011-3612-3. Hall XL / Mon, 04 Apr, 08:00-19:30, Poster XL318 (2011)
Janos Urai, Werner Kraus, Steffen Abe, Max Arndt, Simon Virgo, Marc Holland, Rainer Telle, T. Tonnesen
How good is the glue? An experimental and numerical investigation of the mechanics of crack seal processes in vein networks. EGU General Assembly. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 13, pp. EGU2011-3603-1. Room 28 / Mon, 04 Apr, Room 28 / Mon, 04 Apr. (2011)
Simon Virgo, Max Arndt, P. Stenhouse, Christoph Hilgers, S. F. Cox, Janos Urai
Evolution of a crack-seal calcite vein network in limestone : a high resolution structural, microstructural and geochemical study from the Jebel Akhdar high pressure cell, Oman Mountains. EGU General Assembly. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 13, pp. EGU2011-3573-1. Hall XL / Mon, 04 Apr, 08:00-19:30, Poster XL317 (2011)
P. Stenhouse, S. F. Cox, Simon Virgo, Max Arndt, Janos Urai
Localisation of Fault-controlled Fluid Flow During Growth of a Normal Fault Network, Jebel Akhdar Dome, Oman. IUGG Melbourne, Australia (28 June - 7 July 2011). Oral presentation. (2011)
Stephan Becker, Janos Urai, Katarina Scholz, Peter A. Kukla
Crack-seal microstructure evolution in multiphase rocks: an example of quartz-chlorite veins formed at the brittle-ductile transition. EGU General Assembly 2009, Vienna, Austria, 19 - 24 April 2009, 11. (2009)

Project Partners


University of Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom

Dr. Daniel Koehn
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University of Tübingen, Germany

Prof. Dr. Paul Bons
Dr. Enrique Gomez-Rivas
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University of Mainz, Germany

Dr. Frieder Enzmann,
Dr. Jens-Oliver Schwarz
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Karlsruhe Institue of Technology, Germany

Prof. jun. Dr. Philipp Blum
Dipl. Geol. Conny Zeeb
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University of Bayreuth, Germany

Prof. Dr. Heike Emmerich
Dr. Denis Pilipenko
Ankit Kumar, MSc.
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Australian National University

Prof. Dr. Stephen Cox
Paul Stenhouse, BSc.
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