We introduce an application of the discrete fracture network (DFN) model and 3D persistence to study the relationship between the representative element volume (REV) size and discontinuity information. To avoid the influence of heterogeneity on the distribution of discontinuities, the dam abutment rock mass of the Songta hydropower station is divided into eight statistically homogeneous domains based on the discontinuity orientation and trace length. An optimum DFN model is established for each homogeneous domain. Cubes of different sizes are extracted from the centre of the corresponding DFN model. Based on the discontinuity projection method, the 3D persistence values within the DFN model and each cube are calculated separately. The relative error of persistence for each cube and the DFN model are used to evaluate the size effect and to identify the REV size. Subsequently, the relationship between the determined REV size and the corresponding discontinuity information is systematically researched. Our results show that the discontinuity diameter, the volume density and the Fisher constant have separate linear relationships with the REV size. We present the empirical formulas for estimating the REV size according to the discontinuity diameter, the volume density and the Fisher constant.

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