Connectivity, flow and transport in network models of fractured media
In order to evaluate the safety of radioactive waste disposal underground it is important to understand the way in which radioactive material is transported through the rock to the surface. If the rock is fractured the usual models may not be applicable. In this work we look at three aspects of fracture networks: connectivity, flow and transport. These are studied numerically by generating fracture networks in a computer and modelling the processes which occur. Connectivity relates to percolation theory, and critical densities for fracture systems are found in two and three dimensions. The permeability of two-dimensional networks is studied. The way that permeability depends on fracture density, network size and spread of fracture length can be predicted using a cut lattice model. Transport through the fracture network by convection through the fractures and mixing at the intersections is studied. The Fickian dispersion equation does not describe the resulting hydrodynamic dispersion. Extensions to the techniques to three dimensions and to include other processes are discussed.