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A numerical model for unsaturated flow in a fracture-porous matrix system

Elsevier B.V.
DOI: 10.1016/s0167-5648(02)80049-1


A numerical model for unsaturated moisture transport in fractured porous media is developed. The model combines a discrete fracture model for moisture flow in a variable aperture fracture with a finite element model for unsaturated flow in the porous matrix. To achieve a stable numerical solution, movable nodes, following the moisture front in the fracture, are introduced at the boundary of the finite element mesh. The model is validated with simulations of water infiltration in fractured brick samples as monitored with X-ray radiography. This technique is able to determine the moisture profiles in the matrix as well as the filling of the fracture during the experiment.

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