Multiscale roughness influence on conservative solute transport in self-affine fractures Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018 Elsevier Ltd In this article, the influence of multiscale roughness on transport of a conservative solute through a self-affine fracture was investigated. The fracture roughness was decomposed into two different scales (i.e., a small-scale stationary secondary roughness superimposed on a large-scale non-stationary primary roughness) by a wavelet analysis technique. The fluid flow in the single fracture was characterized by Forchheimer's law and exhibited nonlinear flow features such as eddies and tortuous streamlines. The results indicated that the small-scale secondary roughness was primarily responsible for the nonlinear flow features. Numerical simulations of conservative solute transport showed non-Fickian transport characteristics (i.e., early arrivals and long tails) in breakthrough curves (BTCs) and in residence time distributions (RTDs) with and without consideration of the secondary roughness. Analysis of multiscale BTCs and RTDs showed that the small-scale secondary roughness played a significant role in enhancing the non-Fickian transport characteristics. Removing small-scale secondary roughness delayed the arrival time and shortened the tail. The peak concentrations in BTCs decreased as the secondary roughness was removed, implying that the secondary roughness could also enhance the solute dilution. Fitting the one-dimensional (1D) Fickian advectiondispersion equation (ADE) to the numerical BTCs resulted in considerable errors that decreased with the small-scale secondary roughness being removed. The 1D mobile-immobile model (MIM) provided a better fit to the numerical BTCs and inclusion of the small-scale secondary roughness in numerical simulations resulted in a decreasing MIM mobile domain fraction and an increasing mass exchange rate between immobile and mobile domains.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Dou, Z., Sleep, B., Zhan, H., Zhou, Z., & Wang, J.

complete list of authors

  • Dou, Zhi||Sleep, Brent||Zhan, Hongbin||Zhou, Zhifang||Wang, Jinguo

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM