Fractal Geometry of Two-Dimensional Fracture Networks at Yucca Mountain, Southwestern Nevada

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Fracture traces exposed on three 214- to 260-m2 pavements in the same Miocene ash-flow tuff at Yucca Mountain, southwestern Nevada, have been mapped at a scale of 1:50. The maps are two-dimensional sections through the three-dimensional network of strata-bound fractures. All fractures with trace lengths greater than 0.20 m were mapped. The distribution of fracture-trace lengths is log-normal. The fractures do not exhibit well-defined sets based on orientation. Since fractal characterization of such complex fracture-trace networks may prove useful for modeling fracture flow and mechanical responses of fractured rock, an analysis of each of the three maps was done to test whether such networks are fractal. These networks proved to be fractal and the fractal dimensions (D) are tightly clustered (1.12, 1.14, 1.16) for three laterally separated pavements, even though visually the fracture networks appear quite different. The fractal analysis also indicates that the network patterns are scale independent over two orders of magnitude for trace lengths ranging from 0.20 to 25 m.


Presented at the International Symposium on Fundamentals of Rock Joints, Björkliden, Lapland, Sweden.