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Characteristic Length Scales in Fracture Networks: Hydraulic Connectivity through Periodic Hydraulic Tests

Abstract : Determining hydraulic and transport connectivity in fractured bedrock has long been an important objective in contaminant hydrogeology, petroleum engineering, and geothermal operations. A persistent obstacle to making this determination is that the characteristic length scale is nearly impossible to determine in sparsely fractured networks. Both flow and transport occur through an unknown structure of interconnected fracture and/or fracture zones making the actual length that water or solutes travel undetermined. This poses difficulties for flow and transport models. For, example, hydraulic equations require a separation distance between pumping and observation well to determine hydraulic parameters. When wells pairs are close, the structure of the network can influence the interpretation of well separation and the flow dimension of the tested system. This issue is explored using hydraulic tests conducted in a shallow fractured crystalline rock. Periodic (oscillatory) slug tests were performed at the Ploemeur fractured rock test site located in Brittany, France. Hydraulic connectivity was examined between three zones in one well and four zones in another, located 6 m apart in map view. The wells are sufficiently close, however, that the tangential distance between the tested zones ranges between 6 and 30 m. Using standard periodic formulations of radial flow, estimates of storativity scale inversely with the square of the separation distance and hydraulic diffusivity directly with the square of the separation distance. Uncertainty in the connection paths between the two wells leads to an order of magnitude uncertainty in estimates of storativity and hydraulic diffusivity, although estimates of transmissivity are unaffected. The assumed flow dimension results in alternative estimates of hydraulic parameters. In general, one is faced with the prospect of assuming the hydraulic parameter and inverting the separation distance, or vice versa. Similar uncertainties exist, for instance, when trying to invert transport parameters from tracer mean residence time. This field test illustrates that when dealing with fracture networks, there is a need for analytic methods of complexity that lie between simple radial solutions and discrete fracture network models.
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Contributor : Isabelle Dubigeon <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 3:01:31 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 5, 2019 - 8:18:00 PM


  • HAL Id : insu-01732446, version 1


Maria Klepikova, Matthew Becker, Olivier Bour, Tanguy Le Borgne, Laurent Longuevergne, et al.. Characteristic Length Scales in Fracture Networks: Hydraulic Connectivity through Periodic Hydraulic Tests . American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2017, Dec 2017, New Orleans, United States. pp.H51M-05. ⟨insu-01732446⟩



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