Regional fracture network permeability using outcrop scale measurements

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Authors: Chesnaux, R; Allen, DM; Jenni, S
Year: 2009
Journal: Eng. Geol. 108: 259-271   Article Link (DOI)
Title: Regional fracture network permeability using outcrop scale measurements
Abstract: Estimating the hydraulic properties of fractured aquifers is challenging due to the complexity of structural discontinuities that can generally be measured at a small scale, either in core or in outcrop, but influence groundwater flow over a range of scales. This modeling study uses fracture scanline data obtained from surface bedrock exposures to derive estimates of permeability that can be used to represent the fractured rock matrix within regional scale flow models. The model is developed using PETREL, which traditionally benefits from high resolution data sets obtained during oil and gas exploration, including for example seismic data, and borehole logging data (both lithological and geophysical). The technique consists of interpreting scanline fracture data, and using these data to generate representative Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) models for each field set. The DFN models are then upscaled to provide an effective hydraulic conductivity tensor that represents the fractured rock matrix. For each field site, the upscaled hydraulic conductivities are compared with estimates derived from pumping tests to validate the model. A hydraulic conductivity field is generated for the study region that captures the spatial variability of fracture networks in pseudo-three dimensions from scanline data. Hydraulic conductivities estimated using this approach compare well with those estimated from pumping test data. The study results suggest that such an approach may be feasible for taking small scale fracture data and upscaling these to represent the aquifer matrix hydraulic properties needed for regional groundwater modeling. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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