News Article

Computers and Geotechnics: Scott Sloan Best Paper Award for 2019

Itasca is pleased to congratulate Dr. Branko Damjanac and Dr. Peter A. Cundall for their journal paper (Application of distinct element methods to simulation of hydraulic fracturing in naturally fractured reservoirs) being selected to receive the Scott Sloan Best Paper Award for 2019.

The Scott Sloan Best Paper Award, named in honour of the late Scott Sloan, recognises the top ten papers that have made a significant impact on the field of geotechnical engineering. This impact is based on SCOPUS citations (excluding self-citations) for the previous five years, in conjunction with the opinion of the Editors.


The Distinct Element Method (DEM) represents a rock mass as an assembly of blocks (polygonal or polyhedral). Contacts between blocks correspond to discontinuities (i.e., fractures or joints) that can exhibit non-linear mechanical behavior, including slip and opening. If flow in rock fracture is approximated using the lubrication equation, coupled hydro-mechanical DEM models can be used for simulation of rock mass treatment by fluid injection. However, this approach has a limited capability for simulating fracture propagation. The synthetic rock mass (SRM) concept overcomes this limitation. In SRM, the bonded particle model (BPM), which is an assembly of circular or spherical particles bonded to each other, represents deformation and damage of intact rock. If pre-existing discontinuities are represented in the BPM, the resulting model, referred to as SRM, has the capability of simulating hydraulic fracturing in naturally fractured reservoirs. The model delivers a pattern of hydraulic fractures that evolves in response to both intact rock fracturing and sliding and opening of pre-existing joints.

Numerical model comparing fully connect versus sparsely connect DFNs.
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