On fluid flow regime transition in rough rock fractures: Insights from experiment and fluid dynamic computation

Publication Name

Journal of Hydrology


The influence of roughness, aperture and asperity irregularity on fluid flow regimes in rough rock fractures was investigated by performing coupled triaxial water flow tests and fluid dynamic computation. Ten sets of fabricated curved wedges were developed to obtain different fracture surface roughness by splitting under compression. Three fluid flow regimes were identified in mated rock fractures: pre-linear flow at low flow velocity, linear Darcy's flow at the medium flow velocity and post-linear flow at high flow velocity. In pre-linear flow regime, the increasing rate of flow rate increased with water pressure gradient, but it decreased in post-linear flow regime. The pre-linear flow is ascribed to the slippage effect of water-fracture interfaces, while the post-linear flow is mainly due to inertial effects. The critical hydraulic gradient for fluid flow regime transition from pre-linear to linear flow increased with the increase of confining stress. The numerical modeling shows that the asperity irregularity influences the flow regime. For low-speed flow in fracture under slip boundary condition, the slip flux per unit width in the fracture with triangular asperity is largest, while that of rectangular asperity is smallest. For high-speed flow in fracture with non-slip boundary condition, the rectangular asperity element causes more severe nonlinearity when compared to the fractures of trapezoidal and triangular asperity elements.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



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