Journal Article A fractal model for characterizing fluid flow in fractured rock masses based on randomly distributed rock fracture networks

Liu, Richeng  ,  Jiang, Yujing  ,  Li, Bo  ,  Wang, Xiaoshan

65pp.45 - 55 , 2015-04 , Elsevier Ltd
A fractal model that represents the geometric characteristics of rock fracture networks is proposed to link the fractal characteristics with the equivalent permeability of the fracture networks. The fracture networks are generated using the Monte Carlo method and have a power law size distribution. The fractal dimension DT is utilized to represent the tortuosity of the fluid flow, and another fractal dimension Df is utilized to represent the geometric distribution of fractures in the networks. The results indicate that the equivalent permeability of a fracture network can be significantly influenced by the tortuosity of the fluid flow, the aperture of the fractures and a random number used to generate the fractal length distribution of the fractures in the network. The correlation of fracture number and fracture length agrees well with the results of previous studies, and the calculated fractal dimensions Df are consistent with their theoretical values, which confirms the reliability of the proposed fractal length distribution and the stochastically generated fracture network models. The optimal hydraulic path can be identified in the longer fractures along the fluid flow direction. Using the proposed fractal model, a mathematical expression between the equivalent permeability K and the fractal dimension Df is proposed for models with large values of Df. The differences in the calculated flow volumes between the models that consider and those that do not consider the influence of fluid flow tortuosity are as high as 17.64-19.51%, which emphasizes that the effects of tortuosity should not be neglected and should be included in the fractal model to accurately estimate the hydraulic behavior of fracture networks.

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