The effect of a fissure on storage in a porous medium

Jerome Neufeld, Dominic Vella, Herbert E Huppert

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

41 Citations (Scopus)


We consider the two-dimensional buoyancy driven flow of a fluid injected into a saturated semi-infinite porous medium bounded by a horizontal barrier in which a single line sink, representing a fissure some distance from the point of injection, allows leakage of buoyant fluid. Our studies are motivated by the geological sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the possibility that fissures in the cap rock may compromise the safe long-term storage of CO2. A theoretical model is presented that accounts for leakage through the fissure using two parameters, which characterize leakage driven both by the hydrostatic pressure within the overriding fluid and by the buoyancy of the fluid within the fissure. We determine numerical solutions for the evolution of both the gravity current within the porous medium and the volume of fluid that has escaped through the fissure as a function of time. A quantity of considerable practical interest is the efficiency of storage, which we define as the amount of fluid remaining in the porous medium relative to the amount injected. This efficiency scales like t−1/2 at late times, indicating that the efficiency of storage ultimately tends to zero. We confirm the results of our model by comparison with an analogue laboratory experiment and discuss the implications of our two-dimensional model of leakage from a fissure for the geological sequestration of CO2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-259
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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