Numerical simulation of geophysical heat transfer in permafrost areas



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Due to the impending resource development in the colder regions of the earth, a realistic appraisal of the effects of heat additions to permafrost layers is a practical necessity. An effective digital technique is developed for simulation of heat transfer in earth formations which are initially frozen. Three specific examples are investigated: (1) production of oil through a well which penetrates a permafrost layer, (2) injection of a relatively hot liquid down a well and into a reservoir which lies below a permafrost layer, and (3) placement of a volumetric heat source in a permafrost layer to simulate the disposal of radioactive wastes. Temperature fields and melting-front locations are computed, and parametric studies include the effects of varying the thermal properties of permafrost and the physical geometry of the heat transfer model.