Interface pinning of immiscible gravity-exchange flows in porous media

Benzhong Zhao*, Christopher W. MacMinn, Michael L. Szulczewski, Jerome A. Neufeld, Herbert E. Huppert, Ruben Juanes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023015
JournalPhysical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2013


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