Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
An interpretation of potential scale dependence of the effective matrix diffusion
- Author(s): Liu, H.H.
- Zhang, Y.Q.
- Zhou, Q.
- Molz, F.J.
- et al.
Matrix diffusion is an important process for solute transport in fractured rock, and the matrix diffusion coefficient is a key parameter for describing this process. Previous studies indicated that the effective matrix diffusion coefficient values, obtained from a large number of field tracer tests, are enhanced in comparison with local values and may increase with test scale. In this study, we have performed numerical experiments to investigate potential mechanisms behind possible scale-dependent behavior. The focus of the experiments is on solute transport in flow paths having geometries consistent with percolation theories and characterized by local flow loops formed mainly by small-scale fractures. The water velocity distribution through a flow path was determined using discrete fracture network flow simulations, and solute transport was calculated using a previously derived impulse-response function and a particle-tracking scheme. Values for effective (or up-scaled) transport parameters were obtained by matching breakthrough curves from numerical experiments with an analytical solution for solute transport along a single fracture. Results indicate that a combination of local flow loops and the associated matrix diffusion process, together with scaling properties in flow path geometry, seems to be the dominant mechanism causing the observed scale dependence of the effective matrix diffusion coefficient (at a range of scales).