Simulation of flow, transport and mechanic processes in fractured rocks

The shallow subsurface is fractured, and such displacement discontinuities can have a critical impact on the engineering of water resources, tunnels and mines, underground gas storage, CO2 geo-sequestration, geothermal systems and hydrocarbon reservoirs. Understanding how rock fractures affect related activities in this now heavily explored environment is very important.

We work on all aspects of flow and transport processes in fractured rock: forward modelling of reactive (multiphase) flow processes, geomechanics, effective media property determination, model construction, benchmarking and validation following the objective to improve the physical realism of fracture modelling and simulation with the goal of better prediction, improved design of, and early anticipation of risks and side effects of engineering measures.

Figures: Multi-layer discrete fracture and matrix (DFM) model (Milliotte et al 2017, Geol Soc London, Spec Publ).

Fluid pressure

Magnitude of fluid flux in fractures and rock matrix in one of the sub-layers for a far-field pressure gradient of 1 kPa/m applied in the x-direction; constant fracture aperture of 730 micro-meters; matrix permeability 0.06 mD. The flux is visualized with an opacity filter showing only values greater than a certain magnitude. The variations highlight the strong permeability heterogeneity imparted by the fractures. While the fracture dominate there is an important matrix contribution to the total flow. Preferential flow paths in this layer are indicated by black arrows.