UMass Sesquicentennial

A method of estimating bulk potential permeability in fractured-rock aquifers using field-derived fracture data and type curves

TitleA method of estimating bulk potential permeability in fractured-rock aquifers using field-derived fracture data and type curves
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsManda, AK, Mabee, SB, Boutt, DF, Cooke, ML
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Pagination357 - 369
Date Published2013/03/01/
PublisherSpringer : Berlin - Heidelberg, Germany
ISBN Number1431217414350157
Keywords#StaffPubs, aquifers, boundary conditions, eastern Massachusetts, fractured materials, fractures, ground water, Hydrogeology 21, massachusetts, Nashoba terrane, naturally fractured reservoirs, numerical models, permeability, prediction, pump tests, simulation, two-dimensional models, United States

A method is devised for estimating the potential permeability of fracture networks from attributes of fractures observed in outcrop. The technique, which is intended as a complement to traditional approaches, is based on type curves that represent various combinations of fracture lengths, fracture orientations and proportions (i.e., intensities) of fractures that participate in flow. Numerical models are used to derive the type curves. To account for variations in fracture aperture, a permeability ratio (R) defined as the permeability of a fracture network in a domain divided by the permeability of a single fracture with identical fracture apertures, is used as a dependent variable to derive the type curves. The technique works by determining the point on the type curve that represents the fracture characteristics collected in the field. To test the performance of the technique, permeabilities that were derived from fractured-rock aquifers of eastern Massachusetts (USA) are compared to permeabilities predicted by the technique. Results indicate that permeabilities estimated from type curves are within an order of magnitude of permeabilities derived from field tests. First-order estimates of fracture-network permeability can, therefore, be easily and quickly acquired with this technique before more robust and expensive methods are utilized in the field. Copyright 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Short TitleHydrogeology Journal
For more info contact: 


The MA Geological Survey
Department of Geosciences
269 Morrill Science Center
University of Massachusetts
611 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9297

Contact Us

Ph: (413) 545-4814
Fax: (413) 545-1200

stategeologist at geo dot umass dot edu

Follow us!