FracPaQ: A MATLAB™ toolbox for the quantification of fracture patterns

David Healy, Roberto E. Rizzo, David G. Cornwell, Natalie J. Farrell, Hannah Watkins, Nick E. Timms, Enrique Gomez-Rivas, Micheal Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Citations (Scopus)
415 Downloads (Pure)


The patterns of fractures in deformed rocks are rarely uniform or random. Fracture orientations, sizes, and spatial distributions often exhibit some kind of order. In detail, relationships may exist among the different fracture attributes, e.g. small fractures dominated by one orientation, larger fractures by another. These relationships are important because the mechanical (e.g. strength, anisotropy) and transport (e.g. fluids, heat) properties of rock depend on these fracture attributes and patterns. This paper describes FracPaQ, a new open source, cross-platform toolbox to quantify fracture patterns, including distributions in fracture attributes and their spatial variation.

Software has been developed to quantify fracture patterns from 2-D digital images, such as thin section micrographs, geological maps, outcrop or aerial photographs or satellite images. The toolbox comprises a suite of MATLAB™ scripts based on previously published quantitative methods for the analysis of fracture attributes: orientations, lengths, intensity, density and connectivity. An estimate of permeability in 2-D is made using a parallel plate model. The software provides an objective and consistent methodology for quantifying fracture patterns and their variations in 2-D across a wide range of length scales, rock types and tectonic settings. The implemented methods presented are inherently scale independent, and a key task where applicable is analysing and integrating quantitative fracture pattern data from micro-to macro-scales. The toolbox was developed in MATLAB™ and the source code is publicly available on GitHub™ and the Mathworks™ FileExchange. The code runs on any computer with MATLAB installed, including PCs with Microsoft Windows, Apple Macs with Mac OS X, and machines running different flavours of Linux. The application, source code and sample input files are available in open repositories in the hope that other developers and researchers will optimise and extend the functionality for the benefit of the wider community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date9 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Software


Dive into the research topics of 'FracPaQ: A MATLAB™ toolbox for the quantification of fracture patterns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this