CROSS-CUTTING IMPORTANCE OF FRACTURE-MATRIX INTERACTION TO GROUNDWATER, GEOTHERMAL, AND PETROLEUM PERFORMANCE
The behavior of flow in fractured porous systems is controlled by the relative flow and diffusive properties of the fractures and matrix as well as by the size and shape of matrix blocks. Classic formulations of fracture-matrix interaction assume constant fracture spacing and fracture properties. Realistic fracture networks have neither, which leads to systems with heterogeneous transfer rates. Discrete fracture network (DFN) models provide a useful experimental tool for exploring the effects of heterogeneous fracture properties and variable fracture spacing. A comparison of DFN results for a heterogeneous fracture network with analytical solutions for constant-spaced fractures shows a significant effect of heterogeneous block sizes on the thermal breakthrough behaviors. Pressure responses from the production of fluids from hydraulic fractures produce multiple flow regimes associated with fracture flow, matrix flow, and fracture interference. With heterogeneous block sized these regimes become blurred.