Hydraulic characterization of a fault zone from fracture distribution

Valentina Romano, Sabina Bigi, Francesco Carnevale, Jeffrey De'Haven Hyman, Satish Karra, Albert J. Valocchi, Maria Chiara Tartarello, Maurizio Battaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A quantitative assessment of how faults control the migration of geofluids is critical in many areas of geosciences. We integrated geological fieldwork, quantitative analysis of the fractures distribution and numerical modeling to build a geometrical representation of a fault zone and to characterize its hydraulic properties. Our target is a fault located in the Majella Mountain (Italy). We collected 21 scan lines across the fault profile in order to characterize its architecture. The numerical modeling of the fracture network of the damage zones and their hydraulic parameters was performed using both commercial (Move®) and open source software (dfnWorks and PFLOTRAN). Move® was used to build a representative model of the fault zone using fracture spacing as a proxy, and to model the hydraulic parameters of the different fault domains. dfnWorks and PFLOTRAN were employed to infer the hydraulic parameters of the damage zones of the fault and then upscale these properties to an equivalent continuum domain, suitable for fluid flow simulations through the whole fault zone. Our findings show how even in a relatively small area it is possible to describe changes in terms of hydraulic properties of a fault zone and to build models capable to represent these variations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104036
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Discrete fracture networks
  • Faults
  • Fluid flow
  • Fractures
  • Numerical modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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