Linking sub-pore scale heterogeneity of biological and geochemical deposits with changes in permeability

Ghezzehei, T. A.

Advances in Water Resources, vol. 39, pp. 1-6 , 2012.

Keywords

Porosity, Permeability, Clogging, Coupled processes, Mineral precipitation

Abstract

Subsurface geochemical and biological transformations often influence fluid flow by altering the pore space morphology and related hydrologic properties such as porosity and permeability. In most coupled-processes models changes in porosity are inferred from geochemical and biological process models using mass-balance. The corresponding evolution of permeability is estimated using (semi-) empirical porosity–permeability functions such as the Kozeny–Carman equation or power-law functions. These equations typically do not account for the heterogeneous spatial distribution and morphological irregularities of the geochemical precipitates and biomass. As a result, predictions of permeability evolution are generally unsatisfactory. In this communication, we demonstrate the significance of pore-scale precipitate distribution on porosity–permeability relations using high resolution simulations of fluid flow through a single pore interspersed with crystals. Based on these simulations, we propose a modification to the Kozeny–Carman model that accounts for the shape of the deposits. Limited comparison with published experimental data suggests the plausibility of the proposed conceptual model.