Subsecond pore-scale displacement processes and relaxation dynamics in multiphase flow

Ryan T. Armstrong, Holger Ott, Apostolos Georgiadis, Maja Rücker, Alex Schwing, Steffen Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


With recent advances at X-ray microcomputed tomography (μCT) synchrotron beam lines, it is now possible to study pore-scale flow in porous rock under dynamic flow conditions. The collection of four-dimensional data allows for the direct 3-D visualization of fluid-fluid displacement in porous rock as a function of time. However, even state-of-the-art fast-μCT scans require between one and a few seconds to complete and the much faster fluid movement occurring during that time interval is manifested as imaging artifacts in the reconstructed 3-D volume. We present an approach to analyze the 2-D radiograph data collected during fast-μCT to study the pore-scale displacement dynamics on the time scale of 40 ms which is near the intrinsic time scale of individual Haines jumps. We present a methodology to identify the time intervals at which pore-scale displacement events in the observed field of view occur and hence, how reconstruction intervals can be chosen to avoid fluid-movement-induced reconstruction artifacts. We further quantify the size, order, frequency, and location of fluid-fluid displacement at the millisecond time scale. We observe that after a displacement event, the pore-scale fluid distribution relaxes to (quasi-) equilibrium in cascades of pore-scale fluid rearrangements with an average relaxation time for the whole cascade between 0.5 and 2.0 s. These findings help to identify the flow regimes and intrinsic time and length scales relevant to fractional flow. While the focus of the work is in the context of multiphase flow, the approach could be applied to many different μCT applications where morphological changes occur at a time scale less than that required for collecting a μCT scan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9162-9176
Number of pages15
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • fractional flow
  • Haines jump
  • multiphase flow computed microtomography
  • pore scale
  • X-ray microcomputed tomography

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