Critical Reynolds number for nonlinear flow through rough-walled fractures: The role of shear processes
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This paper experimentally investigates the role of shear processes on the variation of critical Reynolds number and nonlinear flow through rough-walled rock fractures. A quantitative criterion was developed to quantify the onset of nonlinear flow by comprehensive combination of Forchheimer's law and Reynolds number. At each shear displacement, several high-precision water flow tests were carried out with different hydraulic gradients then the critical Reynolds number was determined based on the developed criterion. The results show that (i) the Forchheimer's law was fitted very well to experimental results of nonlinear fluid flow through rough-walled fractures, (ii) the coefficients of viscous and inertial pressure drops experience 4 and 7 orders of magnitude reduction during shear displacement, respectively, and (iii) the critical Reynolds number varies from 0.001 to 25 and experiences 4 orders of magnitude enlargement by increasing shear displacement from 0 to 20 mm. These findings may prove useful in proper understanding of fluid flow through rock fractures, or inclusions in computational studies of large-scale nonlinear flow in fractured rocks.
An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright 2014 American Geophysical Union
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