The failure of sealants aging in geothermal downwell atmospheres is usually a result of the cumulative effects of both the forming of cross-links and their destruction in the rubbery sealant materials. Methods are discussed to distinguish between these mechanisms using measurement of stress relaxation and permanent set. Some data on oxidative aging of natural rubber are recalled as a paradigm of chemically degrading elastomers and some simple scaling laws are described which (when they can be established) are useful for predicting longtime behavior from short-time tests.
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