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Determination of equivalent hydraulic and mechanical properties of fractured rock masses using the distinct element method
KTH, Superseded Departments, Land and Water Resources Engineering.
2002 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The equivalent continuum approach uses equivalent propertiesof rock mass as the input data for a continuum analysis. Thisis a common modeling method used in the field of rock mechanicsand hydrogeology. However, there are still unresolvedquestions; how can the equivalent properties be determined andis the equivalent continuum approach suitable for modeling thediscontinuous fractured rock mass.

The purpose of this paper is to establish a methodology todetermine the equivalent hydraulic and mechanical properties offractured rock masses by explicit representations of stochasticfracture systems, to investigate the scale-dependency of theproperties, and to investigate the conditions for theapplication of the equivalent continuum approach for thefractured rock masses. Geological data used for this study arefrom the site characterization of Sellafield, Cumbria, UK. Aprogram for the generation of stochastic Discrete FractureNetwork (DFN) is developed for the realization of fractureinformation and ten parent DFN models are constructed based onthe location, trace length, orientation and density offractures. Square models with the sizes varying from 0.25 m× 0.25 m to 10 m × 10 m are cut from the center ofthe each parent network to be used for the scale dependencyinvestigation. A series of the models in a parent network arerotated in 30 degrees interval to be used for investigation oftensor characteristic. The twodimensional distinct elementprogram, UDEC, was used to calculate the equivalentpermeability and compliance tensors based on generalizedDarcy’s law and general theory of anisotropic elasticity.Two criteria for the applicability of equivalent continuumapproach were established from the investigation: i) theexistence of properly defined REV (Representative ElementaryVolume) and ii) existence of the tensor in describing theconstitutive equation of fractured rock The equivalentcontinuum assumption cannot be accepted if any one of the abovetwo criteria is not met. Coefficient of variation and meanprediction error is suggested for the measures toquantitatively evaluate the errors involved in scale dependencyand tensor characteristic evaluation.

Equivalent permeability and mechanical properties (includingelastic modulus and Poisson’s ratios) determined onrealistic fracture network show that the presence of fracturehas a significant effect on the equivalent properties. Theresults of permeability, elastic moduli and Poisson's ratioshow that they narrow down with the increase of scale andmaintain constant range after a certain scales with someacceptable variation. Furthermore, Investigations of thepermeability tensor and compliance tensor in the rotated modelshow that their tensor characteristics are satisfied at acertain scale; this would indicate that the uses of theequivalent continuum approach is justified for the siteconsidered in this study.

The unique feature of the thesis is that it gives asystematic treatment of the homogenization and upscaling issuesfor the hydraulic and mechanical properties of fractured rockswith a unified approach. These developments established a firmfoundation for future application to large-scale performanceassessment of underground nuclear waste repository byequivalent continuum analysis.

Keywords :Equivalent continuum approach, Equivalentproperty, Representative Elementary Volume (REV), DistinctElement Method, Discrete Fracture Network (DFN)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Mark och vatten , 2002. , vi, 14 p.
Trita-LWR. LIC, 2007
Keyword [en]
equivalent continuum approach, equivalent property, representative elementary volume, distinct element method
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-1550ISBN: 91-7283-372-6OAI: diva2:7468
NR 20140805Available from: 2003-03-19 Created: 2003-03-19Bibliographically approved

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