Flexible parallel implicit modelling of coupled thermal–hydraulic–mechanical processes in fractured rocks
Theory and numerical implementation describing groundwater flow and the transport of heat and solute mass in fully saturated fractured rocks with elasto-plastic mechanical feedbacks are developed. In our formulation, fractures are considered as being of lower dimension than the hosting deformable porous rock and we consider their hydraulic and mechanical apertures as scaling parameters to ensure continuous exchange of fluid mass and energy within the fracture–solid matrix system. The coupled system of equations is implemented in a new simulator code that makes use of a Galerkin finite-element technique. The code builds on a flexible, object-oriented numerical framework (MOOSE, Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment) which provides an extensive scalable parallel and implicit coupling to solve for the multiphysics problem. The governing equations of groundwater flow, heat and mass transport, and rock deformation are solved in a weak sense (either by classical Newton–Raphson or by free Jacobian inexact Newton–Krylow schemes) on an underlying unstructured mesh. Nonlinear feedbacks among the active processes are enforced by considering evolving fluid and rock properties depending on the thermo-hydro-mechanical state of the system and the local structure, i.e. degree of connectivity, of the fracture system. A suite of applications is presented to illustrate the flexibility and capability of the new simulator to address problems of increasing complexity and occurring at different spatial (from centimetres to tens of kilometres) and temporal scales (from minutes to hundreds of years).