Barometric Pumping of a Fractured Porous Medium
Abstract:Fluctuations in the ambient atmospheric pressure result in motion of air in porous fractured media. This mechanism, known as barometric pumping, efficiently transports gaseous species through the vadose zone to the atmosphere. This is of interest in fields, such as transport of trace gases from soil to atmosphere, remediation of contaminated sites, radon in buildings, leakage from carbon sequestration sites and detection of nuclear explosions.
The fractures are modeled as polygonal plane surfaces with a given transmissivity embedded in a permeable matrix. The slightly compressible fluid obeys Darcy’s law in these two media with exchanges between them. The solute obeys convection-diffusion equations in both media again with exchanges.
The fractures and the porous medium are meshed by triangles and tetrahedra, respectively. The equations are discretized by the finite volume method. A Flux Limiting Scheme diminishes numerical dispersion ; the solute transfer between the fractures and the porous medium is precisely evaluated. The resulting equations are solved by conjugate gradient algorithms.
This model is applied to the Roselend Natural Laboratory. At a 55 m depth, a sealed cavity allows for gas release experiments across fractured porous rocks in the unsaturated zone. The fractures are hexagons with a radius of 5m; their density is larger than 2.4 10-3 m-3; the aperture is about 0.5 mm. The pressure fluctuations are sinusoidal, of amplitude 0.01 bar and period 1 week. The solute concentration is equal to 1 at the bottom.
Systematic results will be presented. First, the precision of the calculations is assessed. Second, the pressure and solute concentration fields are displayed and discussed. Third, the influence of the major parameters (fracture density, aperture, porosity, diffusion coefficient,…) is illustrated and discussed.
These results are discussed in terms of the amplification of solute transfer to the ground surface by the pressure fluctuations.