Tracer transport through fractured media exhibits concurrent direction-dependent super-diffusive spreading along high-permeability fractures and sub-diffusion caused by mass transfer between fractures and the rock matrix. The resultant complex dynamics challenge the applicability of conventional physical models based on Fick’s law. This study proposes a multi-scaling tempered fractional-derivative (TFD) model to explore fractional dynamics for tracer transport in fractured media. Applications show that the TFD model can capture anomalous transport observed in small-scale single fractures, intermediate-scale fractured aquifers, and two-dimensional large-scale discrete fracture networks. Tracer transport in fractured media from local (0.255-meter long) to regional (400-meter long) scales therefore can be quantified by a general fractional-derivative model. Fractional dynamics in fractured media can be scale dependent, owning to 1) the finite length of fractures that constrains the large displacement of tracers, and 2) the increasing mass exchange capacity along the travel path that enhances sub-diffusion.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.