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Rock Fractures and Fluid Flow

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Research topics and projects include:
Fluid transport in reservoirs Reservoir modelling Rock mechanics Seismotectonics
Structural Geology Thermodynamics/Statistical Mechanics Tectonophysics Volcanotectonics

We use thermodynamics/statistical mechanics principles to fracture populations, in particular to fissure swarms, fault zones, and rift-zone segments. We calculate the power-law scaling exponents and the (Gibbs/Shannon) entropies of tectonic fractures, ranging in length by five orders of magnitude, from four networks at the plate boundary in Iceland. Each network can be divided into populations based on abrupt changes (breaks) in the scaling exponents. The breaks, we suggest, are related to the comparatively long and deep fractures changing from tension fractures to normal faults and penetrating the contacts between the Holocene lava flows and the underlying and mechanically different Quaternary rocks.

The results show a strong linear correlation between the population scaling exponents, the fracture length ranges and average lengths, and the calculated entropies. The correlation is partly explained by the entropy (and the scaling exponent) varying positively with the length range (the difference between the longest and the shortest fracture) of the populations in each network. Currently, we are working on how to relate the calculated entropies to the thermodynamic principles that control fracture initiation and propagation (the theory of Griffith). We have applied the same method to analysing other lineament patterns, such as streets in cities of various shapes and sizes.

  Power Laws and breaks in scaling exponents of fractures in Iceland  


Contact: rf3@es.rhul.ac.uk


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