Indian Forum for Water Adroit

FracKfinder: A MATLAB Toolbox for Computing 3‐D Hydraulic Conductivity Tensors for Fractured Porous

Pankaj Dey

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  • Institute : Indian Institute of Science
  • Programming language : MATLAB, R
Fractures in porous media have been documented extensively. However, they are often omitted from groundwater flow and mass transport models due to a lack of data on fracture hydraulic properties and the computational burden of simulating fractures explicitly in large model domains. We present a MATLAB toolbox, FracKfinder, that automates HydroGeoSphere (HGS), a variably‐saturated, control volume finite‐element model, to simulate an ensemble of discrete fracture network (DFN) flow experiments on a single cubic model mesh containing a stochastically‐generated fracture network. Because DFN simulations in HGS can simulate flow in both a porous media and a fracture domain, this toolbox computes tensors for both the matrix and fractures of a porous medium. Each model in the ensemble represents a different orientation of the hydraulic gradient, thus minimizing the likelihood that a single hydraulic gradient orientation will dominate the tensor computation. Linear regression on matrices containing the computed 3‐D hydraulic conductivity (K) values from each rotation of the hydraulic gradient is used to compute the K tensors. This approach shows that the hydraulic behavior of fracture networks can be simulated where fracture hydraulic data are limited. Simulation of a bromide tracer experiment using K tensors computed with FracKfinder in HydroGeoSphere demonstrates good agreement with a previous large‐column, laboratory study. The toolbox provides a potential pathway to upscale groundwater flow and mass transport processes in fractured media to larger scales.