Robust Discretization of Flow in Fractured Porous Media
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Flow in fractured porous media represents a challenge for discretization methods due to the disparate scales and complex geometry. Herein we propose a new discretization, based on the mixed finite element method and mortar methods. Our formulation is novel in that it employs the normal fluxes as the mortar variable within the mixed finite element framework, resulting in a formulation that couples the flow in the fractures with the surrounding domain with a strong notion of mass conservation. The proposed discretization handles complex, nonmatching grids and allows for fracture intersections and termination in a natural way, as well as spatially varying apertures. The discretization is applicable to both two and three spatial dimensions. A priori analysis shows the method to be optimally convergent with respect to the chosen mixed finite element spaces, which is supported by numerical examples.