We study the gravity-exchange flow of two immiscible fluids in a porous medium and show that, in contrast with the miscible case, a portion of the initial interface remains pinned at all times. We elucidate, by means of micromodel experiments, the pore-level mechanism responsible for capillary pinning at the macroscale. We propose a sharp-interface gravity-current model that incorporates capillarity and quantitatively explains the experimental observations, including the x∼t1/2 spreading behavior at intermediate times and the fact that capillarity stops a finite-release current. Our theory and experiments suggest that capillary pinning is potentially an important, yet unexplored, trapping mechanism during CO2 sequestration in deep saline aquifers.
|Physical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
|Published - 19 Feb 2013