Preliminary capillary hysteresis simulations in fractured rocks, Yucca Mountain, Nevada

Auli Niemi, G. Bodvarsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Preliminary simulations have been carried out to address the question of how hysteretic (history-dependent) capillary pressure-liquid saturation relation may affect the flow and liquid saturation distribution in a fractured rock system.
Using a hysteresis model modified from the theoretically based dependent domain model of Mualem (1984), a system consisting of discrete fractures and rock matrix parts was simulated under periodically occurring infiltration pulses. Comparisons were made between the hysteretic case and the non-hysteretic case using the main drying curve alone. Material properties used represent values reported for the densely welded tuffs at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
Since no actual hysteresis measurements were available for the welded tuffs, the necessary data was derived based on information available in the soils literature The strongly hysteretic behavior in the uppermost layer of the matrix along with the overall lower matrix capillary suctions, generated higher fracture flows and a more “smeared” matrix liquid saturation vs. depth distribution for the hysteretic case.
While the actual amounts of water being absorbed into the matrix were very similar, the distributions of this absorbed water were different and the matrix was affected up to greater depths in the hysteretic case in comparison to the non-hysteretic case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-291
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - 1988
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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