Coupled Deformation and Fluid-flow Behavior of a Natural Fracture in the CSM In Situ Test Block


The primary goal was the evaluation of an in situ block test as a data source for modeling the coupled flow and mechanical behavior of natural rock fractures. The experiments were conducted with the Colorado School of Mines in situ test block, an 8 m3 (280 ft3) gneiss cube which has been the focus of several previous studies. A single continuous fracture within the block was surrounded with instruments to measure stresses, deformations, and gas conductivity. The setup was subjected to combinations of normal and shear stress by pressurizing the block sides differentially with hydraulic flatjacks. The induced fracture deformation, as measured by two separate sensor systems, did not correlate closely with the fracture conductivity changes or with each other. The test fracture is more complicated physically than two parallel rock faces. Many joints which were not detected by mapping intersect the test fracture and strongly influence its behavior. These invisible joints create sub-blocks which react complexly to changes in applied load. The flow tests reflected the aggregate sub-block dislocations in the flow path. The deformation readings, however, were the movements of discrete points sparsely located among the sub-blocks. High-confidence extrapolation of block test results to large volumes, such as required for nuclear waste repository design, is not feasible currently. Present instrumentation does not sample rock mass behavior in situ at the proper scales. More basically, however, a fundamental gap exists between the nature of jointed rock and our conception of it. Therefore, the near-field rock mass must be discounted as an easily controllable barrier to groundwater flow, until radically different approaches to rock mass testing and modeling are developed


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering



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© 1989 Colorado School of Mines, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1989

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