Properties of a pair of fracture networks produced by triaxial deformation experiments: insights on fluid flow using discrete fracture network models

Ghislain Trullenque*, Rishi Parashar, Clément Delcourt, Lucille Collet, Pauline Villard, Sébastien Potel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Results of a series of deformation experiments conducted on gabbro samples and numerical models for computation of flow are presented. Rocks were subjected to triaxial tests (σ1 > σ2 = σ3) under σ3 = 150 MPa confining pressure at room temperature, to generate fracture network patterns. These patterns were either produced by keeping a constant confining pressure and loading the sample up to failure (conventional test: CT), or by building up a high differential stress and suddenly releasing the confining pressure (confining pressure release test: CPR). The networks are similar in overall density but differ primarily in the orientation of smaller fractures. In the case of CT tests, a conjugate fracture set is observed with one dominant fracture zone running at about 20° from σ1. CPR tests do not show such a conjugate pattern and the mean fracture orientation is at around 35° from σ1. Discrete fracture network (DFN) methodology was used to determine the distribution of flow and hydraulic head for both fracture sets under simple boundary conditions and uniform transmissivity values. The fracture network generated by CT and CPR tests exhibit different patterns of flow field and hydraulic head configurations, but convey approximately the same amount of flow at all scales for which DFN models were simulated. The numerical modelling results help to develop understanding of qualitative differences in flow distribution that may arise in rocks of the same mineralogical composition and mechanical properties, but under the influence of different stress conditions, albeit at similar overall stress magnitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-827
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

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