Abstract: Fluid flow through a fracture or fracture network is controlled by the geometry of the network and by the distribution of voids within each fracture. The critical path, i.e., the path of largest apertures across a fracture, dominates the flow of fluid through the fracture. We have directly quantified the importance of the critical path by using Wood's metal porosimetry and methane flow rate measurements. Filling the critical path with Wood's metal reduced flow rates through the fracture by 70% to 98%. X-ray tomographic scanning and photomicroscopy are used to visualize the void spaces in the fracture.

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