Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 72, Issue 8, pp 2765–2777 | Cite as

Simulation of groundwater flow in fractured rocks using a coupled model based on the method of domain decomposition

Original Article


Groundwater flow in fractured rocks is modeled using a coupled model based on the domain decomposition method. In the model, the fractured porous medium is divided into two non-overlapping sub-domains. One is the rock matrix, in which the medium is described using a continuum model. The other consists of deep fractures and fissure zones, where the medium is described using a discrete fracture network (DFN) model. The two models are coupled through the continuity of the hydraulic heads and fluxes on the common boundaries. The coupled model is used to simulate groundwater flow in a hydropower station. The results show that the model simulates groundwater levels that are in agreement with the measured groundwater levels. Furthermore, the model’s parameters relating to deep fractures and fissure zones are verified by comparing three different models (the continuum model, coupled model, and DFN model). The results show that the coupled model can capture and duplicate the hydrogeological conditions in the study domain, whereas the continuum model overestimates and the DFN model underestimates the measured hydraulic heads. A sensitivity analysis shows that fracture aperture has a considerable effect on the groundwater level. So, when the fracture aperture is large, the coupled model or DFN model is more appropriate than the continuum model in the fracture domain.


Groundwater flow Coupled model Domain decomposition method Deep fractures Fissure zones 



This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51079043 and 41172204), and the Program for Excellent Innovation and Talent in Hohai University. The constructive comments of anonymous reviewers are greatly appreciated and have helped improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Huang
    • 1
  • Zhifang Zhou
    • 1
  • Jinguo Wang
    • 1
  • Zhi Dou
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Earth Science and EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina

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