Investigation of Fracture-Matrix Interaction: Preliminary Experiments in a Simple System

by S. D. Foltz, Univ of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA,
V. C. Tidwell, Univ of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA,
R. J. Glass, Univ of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA,
S. R. Sobolik, Univ of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


Paramount to the modeling of unsaturated flow and transport through fractured porous media is a clear understanding of the processes controlling fracture-matrix interaction. As a first step toward such an understanding, two preliminary experiments have been performed to investigate the influence of matrix imbibition on water percolation through unsaturated fractures in the plane normal to the fracture. Test systems consisted of thin slabs of either tuff or an analog material cut by a single vertical fracture into which a constant fluid flux was introduced. Transient moisture content and solute concentration fields were imaged by means of x-ray absorption. Flow fields associated with the two different media were significantly different owing to differences in material properties relative to the imposed flux. Richard's equation was found to be a valid means of modeling the imbibition of water into the tuff matrix from a saturated fracture for the current experiment.

Subject Headings: Hydraulic fracturing | Material properties | Porous media flow | Cracking | Porous media | Matrix (mathematics) | Unsaturated flow

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