Selecting appropriate governing equations for fluid flow in fractured rock masses is of special importance for estimating the permeability of rock fracture networks. When the flow velocity is small, the flow is in the linear regime and obeys the cubic law, whereas when the flow velocity is large, the flow is in the nonlinear regime and should be simulated by solving the complex Navier-Stokes equations. The critical conditions such as critical Reynolds number and critical hydraulic gradient are commonly defined in the previous works to quantify the onset of nonlinear fluid flow. This study reviews the simplifications of governing equations from the Navier-Stokes equations, Stokes equation, and Reynold equation to the cubic law and reviews the evolutions of critical Reynolds number and critical hydraulic gradient for fluid flow in rock fractures and fracture networks, considering the influences of shear displacement, normal stress and/or confining pressure, fracture surface roughness, aperture, and number of intersections. This review provides a reference for the engineers and hydrogeologists especially the beginners to thoroughly understand the nonlinear flow regimes/mechanisms within complex fractured rock masses.
Yu, L., Liu, R., & Jiang, Y. (2017). A review of critical conditions for the onset of nonlinear fluid flow in rock fractures. Geofluids, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/2176932