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A new approach to account for fracture aperture variability when modeling solute transport in fracture networks
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Chemical Engineering and Technology, Chemical Engineering.
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2013 (English)In: Water resources research, ISSN 0043-1397, E-ISSN 1944-7973, Vol. 49, no 4, 2241-2252 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A simple yet effective method is presented to include the effects of fracture aperture variability into the modeling of solute transport in fracture networks with matrix diffusion and linear sorption. Variable apertures cause different degrees of flow channeling, which in turn influence the contact area available for these retarding processes. Our approach is based on the concept of specific flow-wetted surface (sFWS), which is the fraction of the contact area over the total fracture surface area. Larsson et al. (2012) studied the relationship between sFWS and the standard deviation sigma ln K of the conductivity distribution over the fracture plane. Here an approach is presented to incorporate this into a fracture network model. With this model, solute transport through fracture networks is then analyzed. The cases of S=0 and S=1 correspond to those of no matrix diffusion and full matrix diffusion, respectively. In between, a sFWS breakpoint value can be defined, above which the median solute arrival time is proportional to the square of sFWS. For values below the critical sFWS (more channeled cases), the change is much slower, converging to that of no matrix diffusion. Results also indicate that details of assigning sFWS values for individual fractures in a network are not crucial; results of tracer transport are essentially identical to a case where all fractures have the mean sigma ln K (or corresponding mean sFWS) value. This is obviously due to the averaging effect of the network.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 49, no 4, 2241-2252 p.
Keyword [en]
flow channeling, groundwater transport, fracture networks, matrix diffusion and sorption
National Category
Chemical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-124476DOI: 10.1002/wrcr.20130ISI: 000319282100035ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84877977840OAI: diva2:635938
Swedish Research Council, 245-2006-1152

QC 20130708

Available from: 2013-07-08 Created: 2013-07-05 Last updated: 2013-07-08Bibliographically approved

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Neretnieks, Ivars
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