Effects of fractal surface roughness and lithology on single and multiphase flow in a single fracture: An experimental investigation

Tayfun Babadagli*, Xiaojuan Ren, Kayhan Develi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents qualitative and quantitative analysis of single and multiphase flow in a single fracture based on experimental results and demonstrates relationships between the roughness and fluid movement and distribution. Experiments were conducted on seven perfectly-matching and tightly-closed rough model fractures reproduced from the single fractures of lithologically different seven rock blocks that were jointed artificially through laboratory indirect tensile tests. Transparent upper and opaque lower walls of these models facilitated the visualization of the flow experiments. Rough surfaces of the model fractures were first digitized. Then, using the gathered data in variogram analysis, surface roughness was quantified by fractal dimension. Another roughness quantification parameter was also handled as the ratio between total fracture surface area and planar surface area. Experimental measurements of flow were quantitatively correlated to surface roughness under different normal loading (aperture) conditions. Also, constant rate immiscible displacement experiments were performed to assess the roughness effect represented by seven different lithologies and wettability effect controlled by the material used in manufacturing the fracture samples on the residual saturation development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-58
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Multiphase Flow
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


This research was conducted under the first author’s (TB) NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Unconventional Oil Recovery (industrial partners are Schlumberger, CNRL, SUNCOR, Petrobank, Sherritt Oil, APEX Eng., PEMEX, Statoil, and Husky Energy) and an NSERC Discovery Grant (No: RES0011227). The third author (KD) is also thankful to the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) for his postdoctoral scholarship through the BIDEP program. We gratefully acknowledge these supports.

FundersFunder number
Husky EnergyRES0011227
Sherritt Oil
Schlumberger Foundation
Suncor Energy Incorporated
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştirma Kurumu


    • Fractal dimension
    • Fracture roughness
    • Hydraulic conductivity
    • Multiphase flow in single fractures
    • Single phase flow
    • Unsteady state displacement in fractures


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