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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Analytical Solution for Slug-Tracer Tests in Fractured Reservoirs

  • Author(s): Shan, Chao;
  • Pruess, Karsten
  • et al.

The transport of chemicals or heat in fractured reservoirs is strongly affected by the fracture-matrix interfacial area. In a vapor-dominated geothermal reservoir, this area can be estimated by inert gas tracer tests, where gas diffusion between the fracture and matrix causes the tracer breakthrough curve (BTC) to have a long tail determined by the interfacial area. For water-saturated conditions, recent studies suggest that sorbing solute tracers can also generate strong tails in BTCs that may allow a determination of the fracture-matrix interfacial area. To theoretically explore such a useful phenomenon, this paper develops an analytical solution for BTCs in slug-tracer tests in a water-saturated fractured reservoir. The solution shows that increased sorption should have the same effect on BTCs as an increase of the diffusion coefficient. The solution is useful for understanding transport mechanisms, verifying numerical codes, and for identifying appropriate chemicals as tracers for the characterization of fractured reservoirs.

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