Printer Friendly

Fracturing rock's computer simulations.

Fracturing rock's computer simulations

Rock fractures behave differently in the ground than predicted by laboratory experiments, a new study finds. The research suggests that computer simultations of the flow of gas and liquid through rock, based on laboratory data, provide unreliable answers to people planning disposal sites for hazardous chemicals and nuclear wastes, says Leslie Sour Gertsch of the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Spokane, Wash.

In a Colorado mine, Gertsch cut out a block of rock about 2 meters square b 2.3 meters deep, leaving it attached at the base. Jacks placed on its four sides allowed her to compress the rock and study the effects of the stress on a natural fracture. She found that compression failed to reduce nitrogen seepage through the fracture at the rates predicted, and that it actually increased the flow in the middle part of the fracture.

"I was forced to conclude that a lot more fractures [in the rock] connected to that fracture than I realized," Gertsch says. "These fractures affect both the conductivity of that simple fracture and how it reacts to that [compression] load." What happens to rock in situ "is much more [complicated] than we currently are able to measure," she adds, which means "we cannot supply the data that are important to these models."
COPYRIGHT 1990 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:rock fractures
Author:Young, Patrick
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 3, 1990
Words:218
Previous Article:Going to the goats.
Next Article:Brooding over Australian frogs.
Topics:


Related Articles
The light side of rock fractures.
Getting to the bottom of the crust.
Mimicking the deepest quakes.
Does the moon spark like a Life Saver?
Tiny earthquakes tamed in the laboratory.
New NJIT technology speeds soil cleanup, saves companies money.
Earthquakes: the deadly side of geometry.
Devilish polygons speak of past stress.
It's a rough world: fractals help model vexing problems in earth science.
Mars rovers: new evidence of past water.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters