Fractures can affect many characteristics of rocks, including their flow properties, acoustic responses, and strengths. Several different disciplines have a keen interest in fracture issues, but there are difficulties in achieving effective communications between the different areas of expertise. The primary reason for this situation is that each group has developed a different model for what they mean by “fracture”. We illustrate the various versions of what is meant by the term “fracture”. The message of this presentation is that no single model is correct, but all models may be useful within their own context. The path leading to better communication is for each discipline to understand what the other groups mean. It would be useful to move towards a conceptual representation of fractures that draws on object-oriented methods: the underlying reality is represented by particular instances that may be appropriate within a specific context, but other instances may be needed when the context changes. For too long we have been like the blind men touching an elephant. Now we need to remove our blindfolds and ask what others have experienced.


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