Enhancing fracture network characterization: A data-driven, outcrop-based analysis

by Weiwei Zhu, Xupeng He, Ryan Kurniawan Santoso, Gang Lei, Tadeusz W. Patzek, Moran Wang
Year: 2022 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compgeo.2022.104997


We utilize a pixel-based fracture detection algorithm to digitize 80 published outcrop maps of different scales at different locations. The key fracture properties, including fracture lengths, orientations, intensities, topological structures, clusters, and flow, are analyzed. Our findings provide significant justifications for statistical distributions used in SDFN modelings. We find that fracture lengths follow multiple (instead of single) power-law distributions with varying exponents. Large fractures tend to have large exponents, possibly because of a small coalescence probability. Most small-scale natural fracture networks have scattered orientations, corresponding to a small κ value (κ) in a von Mises–Fisher distribution. Large fracture systems analyzed in this research usually have more concentrated orientations with large values. Fracture intensities are spatially clustered at all scales. A fractal spatial density distribution, which introduces clustered fracture positions, can better capture the spatial clustering than a uniform distribution. Natural fracture networks usually have a significant proportion of T-type nodes, which is unavailable in conventional SDFN models. Thus, a rule-based algorithm is necessary to mimic the fracture growth and form T-type nodes. Most outcrop maps show good topological connectivity. However, sealing patterns and stress impact must be considered to evaluate the hydraulic conductivity of fracture networks.