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A Geometrical Aperture-Width Relationship for Rock Fractures

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Journal Article - Open Access

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Kansas State University Manhattan United States

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The relationship between fracture aperture maximum opening dmax and fracture width w has been the subject of debate over the past several decades. An empirical power law has been commonly applied to relate these two parameters. Its exponent n is generally determined by fitting the power-law function to experimental observations measured at various scales. Invoking concepts from fractal geometry we theoretically show, as a first-order approximation, that the fracture aperture should be a linear function of its width, meaning that n 1. This finding is in agreement with the result of linear elastic fracture mechanics LEFM theory. We compare the model predictions with experimental observations available in the literature. This comparison generally supports a linear relationship between fracture aperture and fracture width, although there exists considerable scatter in the data. We also discuss the limitations of the proposed model, and its potential application to the prediction of flow and transport in fractures.

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  • Geology, Geochemistry and Mineralogy

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