A mathematical formulation has been developed for calculating the cross-sectional shape of hydraulic fractures. This formulation treats the problem as a free-boundary-type problem and is modeled after mathematical formulations developed for contact and lubrication problems. Numerical solution of the resulting equations has been used to address problems involving particularly difficult in-situ stress distributions, including problems in which the fracture breaks through high-stress barriers. The technique is illustrated on two example problems.

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