The dynamics of fluid-driven cracks in an elastic matrix is studied experimentally. We report the crack radius R(t) as a function of time, as well as the crack shapes w(r,t) as a function of space and time. A dimensionless parameter, the pressure ratio Δpf/Δpv, is identified to gauge the relative importance between the toughness (Δpf) and viscous (Δpv) effects. In our previous paper (Lai et al. 2015 Proc. R. Soc. A 471, 20150255. (doi:10.1098/rspa.2015.0255)), we investigated the viscous limit experimentally when the toughness-related stresses are negligible for the crack propagation. In this paper, the experimental parameters, i.e. Young\&$\#$39;s modulus E of the gelatin, viscosity μ of the fracturing liquid and the injection flow rate Q, were chosen so that the viscous effects in the flow are negligible compared with the toughness effects, i.e. Δpf/Δpv>>1. In this limit, the crack dynamics can be described by the toughness-dominated scaling laws, which give the crack radius R(t)\∝t(2/5) and the half maximum crack thickness W(t)\∝t(1/5) The experimental results are in good agreement with the predictions of the toughness scaling laws: the experimental data for crack radius R(t) for a wide range of parameters (E,μ,Q) collapse after being rescaled by the toughness scaling laws, and the rescaled crack shapes w(r,t) also collapse to a dimensionless shape, which demonstrates the self-similarity of the crack shape. The appropriate choice of the viscous or toughness scaling laws is important to accurately describe the crack dynamics.This article is part of the themed issue \&$\#$39;Energy and the subsurface\&$\#$39;.

}, issn = {1364-503X}, doi = {10.1098/rsta.2015.0425}, author = {Lai, Ching-Yao and Zheng, Zhong and Dressaire, Emilie and Stone, Howard A} }