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Accuracy of flowmeters measuring horizontal flow in fractured-rock simulators

September 30, 2021

Laboratory evaluations of flowmeter response to flow in fractured-rock simulators are needed to improve understanding of data collected in field settings. The ability of flowmeters to accurately measure the velocity and direction of water flowing between parallel plates was used as a surrogate for instrument response in fractured-rock aquifers. A colloidal borescope flowmeter and a heat-pulse flowmeter were deployed in a fractured rock simulator with 4-inch and 6-inch inner-diameter, uncased wells with 0.39- and 1.0-inch fracture apertures and groundwater velocities from 35 to 975 ft/d. The colloidal borescope measurements and applied velocities were positively correlated in all wells and apertures (the coefficient of determination [r2] = 0.61–0.89) and most accurately measured direction at higher velocities. The mean directional error in colloidal borescope measurements was less than 17° in 6-inch wells and 31° in the 4-inch wells at velocities between 92 and 958 ft/d. Heat-pulse flowmeter measurements were 0.001 to 0.004 times less than applied rates and may indicate that water was moving around rather than through the instrument's integrated packer. The mean directional error of heat-pulse flowmeter measurements were about 18 and 42° in the 0.39- and 1.0-inch fractures, respectively, for groundwater velocities within the manufacturer's suggested range of application (0.5–100 ft/d). Measurements made at vertical increments and fracture positions in the well using the colloidal borescope indicate that laminar flow occurs within the central 50% of the fracture but measurements above or below are likely affected by eddy currents.

Publication Year 2021
Title Accuracy of flowmeters measuring horizontal flow in fractured-rock simulators
DOI 10.1111/gwmr.12482
Authors E. Randall Bayless
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation
Index ID 70226660
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center