Characterization of Hydro-Mechanical properties of rock fractures using steady state flow tests

Uotinen, L. (Aalto University) | Torkan, M. (Aalto University) | Janiszewski, M. (Aalto University) | Baghbanan, A. (Aalto University /Isfahan University of Technology) | Nieminen, V. (Aalto University) | Rinne, M. (Aalto University)


Characterization of Hydro-Mechanical (H-M) properties of rock fractures is the initial and important step in modeling of fully H-M coupled processes in fractured rock masses. Fluid flow in the fractured rock mass is an important aspect when evaluating the safety of geological disposal of high-level nuclear waste. Many attempts have been taken to measure and model fluid flow in rock fractures in different stress field conditions. However, still study about the scale effect of fracture properties and confinement stress on the conductivity of rough rock fractures remains a challenging topic of research. As a part of an ongoing research project about fluid flow modeling in fractured rock mass (RAKKA), and as an initial step one rock slab pair with sizes of 250 mm x 250 mm of Kuru grey granite halves was prepared. It has a horizontal mechanically induced tensile fracture. The surface roughness of the fracture was mapped using a conventional profilometer and structure-from-motion photogrammetry before each fluid flow test. The fractures were subjected to different normal stress and then fluid flow within the fractures was conducted linearly from edge to opposite edge with perpendicular edges sealed, and conductivity of the fractures under steady-state condition was measured. Then the test is repeated with all three sides open. The results show anisotropic behaviour in permeability. The diagonal components of the permeability matrix are significantly stress-dependent. Together the new fracture digitization method and the new three-way fluid flow test allow the contactless characterization of hydro-mechanical properties of rock fractures and the validation of the results.

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