Open Channels in Fractures Maintained by Deposition and Erosion of Colloids

by John H. Kessler, Univ of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, United States,
James R. Hunt, Univ of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


Colloids initially suspended in the water in fractures can deposit onto the fracture surfaces, and will partially or fully clog the fracture. The amount of clogging will depend on whether the deposited colloidal material can erode from the fracture surfaces. If the fracture remains only partially clogged the unclogged regions take the form of open channels. The purpose of this paper is to assess under what conditions these open channels form. An analytical model of a steady state, average open channel width is presented which is a function of the fluid flow rate and viscosity, fracture aperture, and the permeability and shear strength of the deposited colloidal material. The implications of the presence of open channels for colloidal transport is also discussed. However, for most repository conditions the fractures are expected to fully clog with colloids.

Subject Headings: Colloids | Open channels | Hydraulic fracturing | Cracking | Transport phenomena | Strength of materials | Shear strength

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