Quantification of aperture and relations between aperture, normal stress and fluid flow for natural single rock fractures

Pinnaduwa H.S.W. Kulatilake, Jinyong Park, Pirahas Balasingam, Robert Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Accurate quantification of rock fracture aperture is important in investigating hydro-mechanical properties of rock fractures. Liquefied wood's metal was used successfully to determine the spatial distribution of aperture with normal stress for natural single rock fractures. A modified 3D box counting method is developed and applied to quantify the spatial variation of rock fracture aperture with normal stress. New functional relations are developed for the following list: (a) Aperture fractal dimension versus effective normal stress; (b) Aperture fractal dimension versus mean aperture; (c) Fluid flow rate per unit hydraulic gradient per unit width versus mean aperture; (d) Fluid flow rate per unit hydraulic gradient per unit width versus aperture fractal dimension. The aperture fractal dimension was found to be a better parameter than mean aperture to correlate to fluid flow rate of natural single rock fractures. A highly refined variogram technique is used to investigate possible existence of aperture anisotropy. It was observed that the scale dependent fractal parameter, Kv, plays a more prominent role than the fractal dimension, Da1d, on determining the anisotropy pattern of aperture data. A combined factor that represents both Da1d and Kv, Da1d × Kv, is suggested to capture the aperture anisotropy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-281
Number of pages13
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008



  • Aperture
  • Aperture anisotropy
  • Fluid flow
  • Fractals
  • Rock fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology

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