FracKfinder: A MATLAB Toolbox for Computing 3‐D Hydraulic Conductivity Tensors for Fractured Porous Media

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2018-10-31
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Young, Nathan
Simpkins, William
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Reber, Jacqueline
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Geological and Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences offers majors in three areas: Geology (traditional, environmental, or hydrogeology, for work as a surveyor or in mineral exploration), Meteorology (studies in global atmosphere, weather technology, and modeling for work as a meteorologist), and Earth Sciences (interdisciplinary mixture of geology, meteorology, and other natural sciences, with option of teacher-licensure).

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The Department of Geology and Mining was founded in 1898. In 1902 its name changed to the Department of Geology. In 1965 its name changed to the Department of Earth Science. In 1977 its name changed to the Department of Earth Sciences. In 1989 its name changed to the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences.

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1898-present

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  • Department of Geology and Mining (1898-1902)
  • Department of Geology (1902-1965)
  • Department of Earth Science (1965-1977)
  • Department of Earth Sciences (1977-1989)

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Fractures in porous media have been documented extensively. However, they are often omitted from groundwater flow and mass transport models due to a lack of data on fracture hydraulic properties and the computational burden of simulating fractures explicitly in large model domains. We present a MATLAB toolbox, FracKfinder, that automates HydroGeoSphere (HGS), a variably-saturated, control volume finite-element model, to simulate an ensemble of discrete fracture network (DFN) flow experiments on a single cubic model mesh containing a stochastically-generated fracture network. Because DFN simulations in HGS can simulate flow in both a porous media and a fracture domain, this toolbox computes tensors for both the matrix and fractures of a porous medium. Each model in the ensemble represents a different orientation of the hydraulic gradient, thus minimizing the likelihood that a single hydraulic gradient orientation will dominate the tensor computation. Linear regression on matrices containing the computed 3-D hydraulic conductivity (K) values from each rotation of the hydraulic gradient is used to compute the K tensors. This approach shows that the hydraulic behavior of fracture networks can be simulated where fracture hydraulic data are limited. Simulation of a bromide tracer experiment using K tensors computed with FracKfinder in HydroGeoSphere demonstrates good agreement with a previous large-column, laboratory study. The toolbox provides a potential pathway to upscale groundwater flow and mass transport processes in fractured media to larger scales.

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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Young, Nathan L., Jacqueline E. Reber, and William W. Simpkins. "FracKfinder: A MATLAB Toolbox for Computing 3‐D Hydraulic Conductivity Tensors for Fractured Porous Media." Groundwater (2018), which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/gwat.12837. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2018
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