Technical Report NTB 90-08

Stripa ProjectWater flow in single rock joints

To study the hydromechanical properties of single rock joints a technique to make transparent replicas of natural joint surfaces has been developed. Five different joint samples were replicated and studied. The aperture distribution of the joints was obtained through a measurement method provided by the transparent replicas. The principle behind the method is that a water drop with a known volume, which is placed inside a joint, will cover a certain area of the surface depending on the average size of aperture at the actual point.

Flow tests were performed on the same joint replicas. The tortuosity of the flow and the velocity along single stream lines were measured using colour injections into the water flow through the joints. The equivalent hydraulic apertures determined from the flow tests were shown to be smaller than the average mechanical apertures. The velocity of the flow varies strongly between different paths over the joint depending on the spatial distribution of the apertures. The degree of matedness between the joint surfaces is an important factor influencing the channeling character of the joints.