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Title: Evaluating the effect of internal aperture variability on transport in kilometer scale discrete fracture networks

The apertures of natural fractures in fractured rock are highly heterogeneous. However, in-fracture aperture variability is often neglected in flow and transport modeling and individual fractures are assumed to have uniform aperture distribution. The relative importance of in-fracture variability in flow and transport modeling within kilometer-scale fracture networks has been under debate for a long time, since the flow in each single fracture is controlled not only by in-fracture variability but also by boundary conditions. Computational limitations have previously prohibited researchers from investigating the relative importance of in-fracture variability in flow and transport modeling within large-scale fracture networks. We address this question by incorporating internal heterogeneity of individual fractures into flow simulations within kilometer scale three-dimensional fracture networks, where fracture intensity, P 32 (ratio between total fracture area and domain volume) is between 0.027 and 0.031 [1/m]. The recently developed discrete fracture network (DFN) simulation capability, dfnWorks, is used to generate kilometer scale DFNs that include in-fracture aperture variability represented by a stationary log-normal stochastic field with various correlation lengths and variances. The Lagrangian transport parameters, non-reacting travel time, , and cumulative retention, , are calculated along particles streamlines. As a result, it is observed that due to local flowmore » channeling early particle travel times are more sensitive to in-fracture aperture variability than the tails of travel time distributions, where no significant effect of the in-fracture aperture variations and spatial correlation length is observed.« less
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  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0309-1708
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396; AC05-00OR22725
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Advances in Water Resources
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 94; Journal ID: ISSN 0309-1708
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; Earth Sciences; Discrete Fracture Networks, Subsurface flow and transport, Heterogeneity, Advective Transport, High-performance Computing, Fractured rock; fractured rock; simulation; subsurface flow; discrete fracture networks; subsurface flow and transport; heterogeneity; advective transport; aperture variability; high-performance computing
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1261554; OSTI ID: 1325331