Flow dynamics and solute transport in unsaturated rock fractures

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Rock fractures play an important role in flow and contaminant transport in fractured aquifers, production of oil from petroleum reservoirs, and steam generation from geothermal reservoirs. In this dissertation, phenomenological aspects of flow in unsaturated fractures were studied in visualization experiments conducted on a transparent replica of a natural, rough-walled rock fracture for inlet conditions of constant pressure and flow rate over a range of angles of inclination. The experiments demonstrated that infiltrating liquid proceeds through unsaturated rock fractures along non-uniform, localized preferential flow paths. Even in the presence of constant boundary conditions, intermittent flow was a persistent flow feature ... continued below

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Su, G. W. October 1999.

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Rock fractures play an important role in flow and contaminant transport in fractured aquifers, production of oil from petroleum reservoirs, and steam generation from geothermal reservoirs. In this dissertation, phenomenological aspects of flow in unsaturated fractures were studied in visualization experiments conducted on a transparent replica of a natural, rough-walled rock fracture for inlet conditions of constant pressure and flow rate over a range of angles of inclination. The experiments demonstrated that infiltrating liquid proceeds through unsaturated rock fractures along non-uniform, localized preferential flow paths. Even in the presence of constant boundary conditions, intermittent flow was a persistent flow feature observed, where portions of the flow channel underwent cycles of snapping and reforming. Two modes of intermittent flow were observed, the pulsating blob mode and the rivulet snapping mode. A conceptual model for the rivulet snapping mode was proposed and examined using idealized, variable-aperture fractures. The frequency of intermittent flow events was measured in several experiments and related to the capillary and Bond numbers to characterize this flow behavior.

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OSTI as DE00751795

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  • Other Information: TH: Thesis (Ph.D.); Submitted to Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (US)

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  • Report No.: LBNL--44440
  • Grant Number: AC03-76SF00098
  • DOI: 10.2172/751795 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 751795
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc708324

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  • October 1999

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  • Sept. 12, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

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  • May 16, 2016, 12:01 p.m.

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Su, G. W. Flow dynamics and solute transport in unsaturated rock fractures, thesis or dissertation, October 1999; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc708324/: accessed August 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.