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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Dr Fabian Wadsworth

Vasseur, Jérémie & Wadsworth, Fabian B. (2019). The permeability of columnar jointed lava. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 124(11): 11305-11315.

Author(s) from Durham


Columnar jointed lava is an important facies in many geothermal reservoir systems. The permeability of jointed lavas is dominated by the contribution from fracture networks. We use a scaling for the permeability of a set of fractures in a solid or porous mass, and extend this to arrays of hexagonal inter‐column fractures. To validate our analytical results, we create numerical domains with relevant geometries and extract system‐scale permeability using the LBflow lattice‐Boltzmann fluid flow simulation tool. Finally, we model the cooling contraction of columns to extend our results so that they predict the permeability with time after lava emplacement. Importantly, we use these results to estimate the range of permeabilities typical of columnar joints that form during cooling from high temperature and are preserved in the crust at moderate to low temperatures.