PyFrac: A planar 3D hydraulic fracture simulator
Fluid driven fractures propagate in the upper earth crust either naturally or in response to engineered fluid injections. The quantitative prediction of their evolution is critical in order to better understand their dynamics as well as to optimize their creation. We present an open-source Python implementation of a hydraulic fracture growth simulator based on the implicit level set algorithm originally developed by Peirce & Detournay (2008). This algorithm couples a finite discretization of the fracture with the use of the near tip asymptotic solutions of a steadily propagating semi-infinite hydraulic fracture. This allows to resolve the multi-scale processes governing hydraulic fracture propagation accurately, even on relatively coarse meshes. We present an overview of the mathematical formulation, the numerical scheme and the details of our implementation. A series of problems including a radial hydraulic fracture verification test, the propagation of a height contained hydraulic fracture, the lateral spreading of a magmatic dyke and an example of fracture closure are presented to demonstrate the capabilities, accuracy and robustness of the implemented algorithm.