The mechanics of fluid-driven fracture propagation through fracture networks is of central interest in gas and oil extraction procedures. A number of computational strategies have now been developed to simulate these processes although specific understanding of the propagation mechanics in the vicinity of pre-existing discontinuities or faults is still limited. This paper investigates the problem of formulating appropriate fluid branching logic at multiple flow path junctions and the influence of sudden contractions or expansions in the flow path channel width at discontinuity intersections. A plane strain model is assumed. A question of additional interest is the possible existence of a “fluid lag” region between the flow front and the mobilized fracture front. The paper explores some examples of flow propagation and branching through simple joint networks.
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