Effects of Sample Size on the Stress-Permeability Relationship for Natural Fractures

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Five granite cores (10.0, 15.0, 19.3, 24.5, and 29.4 cm in diameter) containing natural fractures oriented normal to the core axis, were used to study the effect of sample size on the permeability of natural fractures. Each sample, taken from the same fractured plane, was subjected to three uniaxial compressive loading and unloading cycles with a maximum axial stress of 30 MPa. For each loading and unloading cycle, the flowrate through the fracture plane from a central borehole under constant (±2% of the pressure increment) injection pressures was measured at specified increments of effective normal stress. Both fracture deformation and ... continued below

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112 p.

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Gale, J. E. & Raven, K. G. October 1, 1980.

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Five granite cores (10.0, 15.0, 19.3, 24.5, and 29.4 cm in diameter) containing natural fractures oriented normal to the core axis, were used to study the effect of sample size on the permeability of natural fractures. Each sample, taken from the same fractured plane, was subjected to three uniaxial compressive loading and unloading cycles with a maximum axial stress of 30 MPa. For each loading and unloading cycle, the flowrate through the fracture plane from a central borehole under constant (±2% of the pressure increment) injection pressures was measured at specified increments of effective normal stress. Both fracture deformation and flowrate exhibited highly nonlinear variation with changes in normal stress. Both fracture deformation and flowrate hysteresis between loading and unloading cycles were observed for all samples, but this hysteresis decreased with successive loading cycles. The results of this study suggest that a sample-size effect exists. Fracture deformation and flowrate data indicate that crushing of the fracture plane asperities occurs in the smaller samples because of a poorer initial distribution of contact points than in the larger samples, which deform more elastically. Steady-state flow tests also suggest a decrease in minimum fracture permeability at maximum normal stress with increasing sample size for four of the five samples. Regression analyses of the flowrate and fracture closure data suggest that deformable natural fractures deviate from the cubic relationship between fracture aperture and flowrate and that this is especially true for low flowrates and small apertures, when the fracture sides are in intimate contact under high normal stress conditions, In order to confirm the trends suggested in this study, it is necessary to quantify the scale and variation of fracture plane roughness and to determine, from additional laboratory studies, the degree of variation in the stress-permeability relationship between samples of the same size as well as between samples of different sizes.

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112 p.

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  • Report No.: LBL-11865
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.2172/1109113 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1109113
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc865800

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  • October 1, 1980

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 16, 2016, 12:32 a.m.

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  • Sept. 29, 2017, 4:22 p.m.

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Gale, J. E. & Raven, K. G. Effects of Sample Size on the Stress-Permeability Relationship for Natural Fractures, report, October 1, 1980; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc865800/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.