Parameters affecting maximum fluid transport in large aperture fractures Academic Article uri icon


  • We present results of laboratory experiments to study the behavior of liquids moving in unsaturated wide-aperture fractures. A 5-mm-thick glass plate cut with a ∼1.7-mm aperture was used as a fractured rock analog to study behavior of film and capillary droplet flow modes. Flow rates ranged between 0.6 and 6.0 ml/min. Variability in the ambient barometric pressure, resulting from weather conditions, seemed to play a role in the natural selection of flow mode. For droplet mode, constant input conditions resulted in highly variable transport properties within the fracture. The advancing meniscus exhibited a dynamic contact angle that was a function of the droplet speed and much larger than the static contact angle. Flow rate was reduced due to the larger contact angle. Analytical expressions for droplet velocity and flow capacity are presented as a function of the dynamic rather than the static contact angle.

publication date

  • December 1, 2003