Finite element analysis of flow patterns near geological lenses in hydrodynamic and hydrothermal systems

Chongbin Zhao, B. E. Hobbs, H. B. Mühlhaus, A. Ord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We use theoretical and numerical methods to investigate the general pore-fluid flow patterns near geological lenses in hydrodynamic and hydrothermal systems respectively. Analytical solutions have been rigorously derived for the pore-fluid velocity, stream function and excess pore-fluid pressure near a circular lens in a hydrodynamic system. These analytical solutions provide not only a better understanding of the physics behind the problem, but also a valuable benchmark solution for validating any numerical method. Since a geological lens is surrounded by a medium of large extent in nature and the finite element method is efficient at modelling only media of finite size, the determination of the size of the computational domain of a finite element model, which is often overlooked by numerical analysts, is very important in order to ensure both the efficiency of the method and the accuracy of the numerical solution obtained. To highlight this issue, we use the derived analytical solutions to deduce a rigorous mathematical formula for designing the computational domain size of a finite element model. The proposed mathematical formula has indicated that, no matter how fine the mesh or how high the order of elements, the desired accuracy of a finite element solution for pore-fluid flow near a geological lens cannot be achieved unless the size of the finite element model is determined appropriately. Once the finite element computational model has been appropriately designed and validated in a hydrodynamic system, it is used to examine general pore-fluid flow patterns near geological lenses in hydrothermal systems. Some interesting conclusions on the behaviour of geological lenses in hydrodynamic and hydrothermal systems have been reached through the analytical and numerical analyses carried out in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-158
Number of pages13
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume138
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1999
Externally publishedYes

    Fingerprint

Cite this