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Examining the utility of epoxy replicas of single, natural fractures in dolostone for visualization experiments

Bergslien, Elisa, Fountain, John
Hydrogeology journal 2008 v.16 no.1 pp. 43
dolomitic limestone, epoxides, hydrogeology, lognormal distribution, models, normal distribution, prediction, tracer techniques
Epoxy casts were created of five naturally occurring fractures in dolostone and aperture distribution was measured using a light attenuation method. The optically determined aperture matrices showed a skew towards smaller apertures, with the larger models demonstrating a lognormal distribution and the smaller models a normal distribution. Surface variograms of each display a significant degree of anisotropy. The models had spatial correlation ranges between 1.8 and 5 cm. The optical mean aperture, mean hydraulic aperture and mass-balance aperture were all determined. In addition, the coefficient of variation (C ᵥ) and anisotropy ratio (AR) for each model was determined to compare their predictions with the actual tracer behavior in each of the models. In all cases, the hydraulically determined mean aperture was the same order of magnitude as the optically determined mean aperture. The mass-balance-derived mean aperture differed significantly from the optical mean aperture based on the degree of channeling in the model. However, neither the C ᵥ nor the AR correlated well to the actual behavior of the tracers, suggesting they are insufficient to predict void connectivity. Overall the epoxy replicas performed moderately well and can be well characterized for use in studies where visualization is of primary importance.