This work examined and quantified processes controlling changes in the transport characteristics of natural fractures, subjected to coupled thermal-mechanical-chemical (TMC) effects. Specifically, it examined the effects of mineral dissolution and precipitation mediated by mechanical effects, using laboratory through-flow experiments concurrently imaged by X-ray CT. These were conducted on natural and artificial fractures in cores using water as the permeant. Fluid and mineral mass balances are recorded and are correlated with in-sample saturation, porosity and fracture aperture maps, acquired in real-time by X-ray CT-imaging at a maximum spatial resolution of 15-50 microns per pixel. Post-test, the samples were resin-impregnated, thin-sectioned, and examined by microscopy to define the characteristics of dissolution and precipitation. The test-concurrent X-ray imaging, mass balances, and measurements of permeability, together with the post-test microscopy, were used to define dissolution/precipitation processes, and to constrain process-based models. These models define and quantify key processes of pressure solution, free-face dissolution, and shear-dilation, and the influence of temperature, stress level, and chemistry on the rate of dissolution, its distribution in space and time, and its influence on the mechanical and transport properties of the fracture.
Geochemistry ; Saturation ; Temperature Dependence ; Dissolution ; 58 Geosciences ; Geologic Fractures ; Porosity ; Rock Mechanics ; Permeability ; Minerals ; Precipitation
University of North Texas