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Influence of fracture scale heterogeneity on the flow properties of three-dimensional discrete fracture networks (DFN)

Abstract : While permeability scaling of fractured media has been so far studied independently at the fracture- and network- scales, we propose a numerical analysis of the combined effect of fracture-scale heterogeneities and the network-scale topology. The analysis is based on 2 106 discrete fracture network (DFNs) simulations performed with highly robust numerical methods. Fracture local apertures are distributed according to a truncated Gaussian law, and exhibit self-affine spatial correlations up to a cutoff scale Lc. Network structures range widely over sparse and dense systems of short, long or widely distributed fracture sizes and display a large variety of fracture interconnections, flow bottlenecks and dead-ends. At the fracture scale, accounting for aperture heterogeneities leads to a reduction of the equivalent fracture transmissivity of up to a factor of 6 as compared to the parallel plate of identical mean aperture. At the network scale, a significant coupling is observed in most cases between flow heterogeneities at the fracture and at the network scale. The upscaling from the fracture to the network scale modifies the impact of fracture roughness on the measured permeability. This change can be quantified by the measure a2, which is analogous to the more classical power-averaging exponent used with heterogeneous porous media, and whose magnitude results from the competition of two effects: (i) the permeability is enhanced by the highly transmissive zones within the fractures that can bridge fracture intersections within a fracture plane; (ii) it is reduced by the closed and low transmissive areas that break up connectivity and flow paths. Citation: de Dreuzy, J.-R., Y. Méheust, and G. Pichot (2012), Influence of fracture scale heterogeneity
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Jean-Raynald de Dreuzy, Yves Méheust, Géraldine Pichot. Influence of fracture scale heterogeneity on the flow properties of three-dimensional discrete fracture networks (DFN). Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2012, 117 (B11), pp.B11207. ⟨10.1029/2012JB009461⟩. ⟨insu-00764420⟩

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