Dynamics of snap-off and pore-filling events during two-phase fluid flow in permeable media

Kamaljit Singh, Hannah Menke, Matthew Andrew, Qingyang Lin, Christoph Rau, Martin J. Blunt, Branko Bijeljic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)
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Understanding the pore-scale dynamics of two-phase fluid flow in permeable media is important in many processes such as water infiltration in soils, oil recovery, and geo-sequestration of CO2. The two most important processes that compete during the displacement of a non-wetting fluid by a wetting fluid are pore-filling or piston-like displacement and snap-off; this latter process can lead to trapping of the non-wetting phase. We present a three-dimensional dynamic visualization study using fast synchrotron X-ray micro-tomography to provide new insights into these processes by conducting a time-resolved pore-by-pore analysis of the local curvature and capillary pressure. We show that the time-scales of interface movement and brine layer swelling leading to snap-off are several minutes, orders of magnitude slower than observed for Haines jumps in drainage. The local capillary pressure increases rapidly after snap-off as the trapped phase finds a position that is a new local energy minimum. However, the pressure change is less dramatic than that observed during drainage. We also show that the brine-oil interface jumps from pore-to-pore during imbibition at an approximately constant local capillary pressure, with an event size of the order of an average pore size, again much smaller than the large bursts seen during drainage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5192
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2017


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