Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 29
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Golding, Madeleine J. Huppert, Herbert E. and Neufeld, Jerome A. 2013. The effects of capillary forces on the axisymmetric propagation of two-phase, constant-flux gravity currents in porous media. Physics of Fluids, Vol. 25, Issue. 3, p. 036602.

    Rahunanthan, A. Furtado, F. Marchesin, D. and Piri, M. 2014. Hysteretic enhancement of carbon dioxide trapping in deep aquifers. Computational Geosciences, Vol. 18, Issue. 6, p. 899.

    Al-Menhali, Ali Niu, Ben and Krevor, Samuel 2015. Capillarity and wetting of carbon dioxide and brine during drainage in Berea sandstone at reservoir conditions. Water Resources Research, Vol. 51, Issue. 10, p. 7895.

    Wang, J.G. Ju, Yang Gao, Feng and Liu, Jia 2016. A simple approach for the estimation of CO2 penetration depth into a caprock layer. Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Vol. 8, Issue. 1, p. 75.

    Manceau, Jean-Charles Rohmer, Jérémy and Réveillère, Arnaud 2013. Natural Mitigation of CO2 Leakage Accumulations. Energy Procedia, Vol. 37, p. 4400.

    Kampman, Niko Bickle, Mike Wigley, Max and Dubacq, Benoit 2014. Fluid flow and CO2–fluid–mineral interactions during CO2-storage in sedimentary basins. Chemical Geology, Vol. 369, p. 22.

    Wang, J.G. and Peng, Y. 2014. Numerical modeling for the combined effects of two-phase flow, deformation, gas diffusion and CO2 sorption on caprock sealing efficiency. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Vol. 144, p. 154.

    MacMinn, Christopher W. Neufeld, Jerome A. Hesse, Marc A. and Huppert, Herbert E. 2012. Spreading and convective dissolution of carbon dioxide in vertically confined, horizontal aquifers. Water Resources Research, Vol. 48, Issue. 11, p. n/a.

    Huppert, Herbert E. and Neufeld, Jerome A. 2014. The Fluid Mechanics of Carbon Dioxide Sequestration. Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 46, Issue. 1, p. 255.

    Andrew, Matthew Bijeljic, Branko and Blunt, Martin J. 2013. Pore-scale imaging of geological carbon dioxide storage under in situ conditions. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 40, Issue. 15, p. 3915.

    Hidalgo, Juan J. MacMinn, Christopher W. and Juanes, Ruben 2013. Dynamics of convective dissolution from a migrating current of carbon dioxide. Advances in Water Resources, Vol. 62, p. 511.

    Gasda, Sarah E. Nilsen, Halvor M. and Dahle, Helge K. 2013. Impact of structural heterogeneity on upscaled models for large-scale CO2 migration and trapping in saline aquifers. Advances in Water Resources, Vol. 62, p. 520.

    Dudfield, Peter and Woods, Andrew W. 2013. On the use of seismic data to monitor the injection of CO2 into a layered aquifer. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 368, p. 132.

    Doster, F. Nordbotten, J.M. and Celia, M.A. 2013. Impact of capillary hysteresis and trapping on vertically integrated models for CO2 storage. Advances in Water Resources, Vol. 62, p. 465.

    Malekzadeh, Farshad A. and Dusseault, Maurice B. 2013. A solution for the transition zone isosats in two-phase primary drainage in the presence of gravity. Computational Geosciences, Vol. 17, Issue. 5, p. 757.

    Zhao, Benzhong MacMinn, Christopher W. Huppert, Herbert E. and Juanes, Ruben 2014. Capillary pinning and blunting of immiscible gravity currents in porous media. Water Resources Research, Vol. 50, Issue. 9, p. 7067.

    Wang, J.G. Ju, Yang Gao, Feng Peng, Yan and Gao, Yanan 2015. Effect of CO2 sorption-induced anisotropic swelling on caprock sealing efficiency. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 103, p. 685.

    Wang, Shujuan Vafai, Kambiz and Mukhopadhyay, Sumit 2014. Two-phase CO2 migration in tilted aquifers in the presence of groundwater flow. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, Vol. 77, p. 717.

    Mukhopadhyay, Sumit 2015. Handbook of Porous Media, Third Edition.

    2016. The Metallogeny of Lode Gold Deposits.

  • Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Volume 678
  • July 2011, pp. 248-270

Two-phase gravity currents in porous media

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 26 April 2011

We develop a model describing the buoyancy-driven propagation of two-phase gravity currents, motivated by problems in groundwater hydrology and geological storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). In these settings, fluid invades a porous medium saturated with an immiscible second fluid of different density and viscosity. The action of capillary forces in the porous medium results in spatial variations of the saturation of the two fluids. Here, we consider the propagation of fluid in a semi-infinite porous medium across a horizontal, impermeable boundary. In such systems, once the aspect ratio is large, fluid flow is mainly horizontal and the local saturation is determined by the vertical balance between capillary and gravitational forces. Gradients in the hydrostatic pressure along the current drive fluid flow in proportion to the saturation-dependent relative permeabilities, thus determining the shape and dynamics of two-phase currents. The resulting two-phase gravity current model is attractive because the formalism captures the essential macroscopic physics of multiphase flow in porous media. Residual trapping of CO2 by capillary forces is one of the key mechanisms that can permanently immobilize CO2 in the societally important example of geological CO2 sequestration. The magnitude of residual trapping is set by the areal extent and saturation distribution within the current, both of which are predicted by the two-phase gravity current model. Hence the magnitude of residual trapping during the post-injection buoyant rise of CO2 can be estimated quantitatively. We show that residual trapping increases in the presence of a capillary fringe, despite the decrease in average saturation.

Corresponding author
Email address for correspondence:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Bear & V. Ryzhik 1998 On the displacement of NAPL lenses and plumes in a phreatic aquifer. Trans. Porous Med. 33, 227255.

J. Bear , V. Ryzhik , C. Braester & V. Entov 1996 On the movement of an LNAPL lens on the water table. Trans. Porous Med. 25, 283311.

M. Bickle , A. Chadwick , H. E. Huppert , M. Hallworth & S. Lyle 2007 Modelling carbon dioxide accumulation at Sleipner: implications for underground carbon storage. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 255, 164176.

S. E. Gasda , S. Bachu & M. A. Celia 2004 Spatial characterization of the location of potentially leaky wells penetrating a deep saline aquifer in a mature sedimentary basin. Environ. Geol. 46, 707720.

S. E. Gasda , J. M. Nordbotten & M. A. Celia 2009 Vertical equilibrium with sub-scale analytical methods for geological CO2 sequestration. Comput. Geosci. 13, 469481.

M. Th. van Genuchten 1980 A closed-form equation for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 44, 892898.

C. P. Green & J. Ennis-King 2010 Effect of vertical heterogeneity on long-term migration of CO2 in saline formations. Trans. Porous Med. 82, 3147.

M. A. Hesse & A. W. Woods 2010 Buoyant dispersal of CO2 during geological storage. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L01403.

R. Juanes , C. W. MacMinn & M. L. Szulczewski 2010 The footprint of the CO2 plume during carbon dioxide storage in saline aquifers: storage efficiency for capillary trapping at the basin scale. Trans. Porous Med. 82, 1930.

R. Juanes , E. J. Spiteri , F. M. Orr Jr & M. J. Blunt 2006 Impact of relative permeability hysteresis on geological CO2 storage. Water Resour. Res. 42, W12418.

I. N. Kochina , N. N. Mikhailov & M. V. Filinov 1983 Groundwater mound damping. Intl J. Engng Sci. 21 (4), 413421.

C. S. Land 1968 Calculation of imbibition relative permeability for two- and three-phase flow from rock properties. Soc. Petrol. Engng J. 8 (2), 149156.

M. C. Leverett 1939 Flow of oil–water mixtures through unconsolidated sands. Trans. AIME 132, 149171.

M. C. Leverett 1941 Capillary behavior in porous solids. Trans. AIME 142, 152169.

K. Li & R. N. Horne 2006 Comparison of methods to calculate relative permeability from capillary pressure in consolidated water-wet porous media. Water Resour. Res. 42, W06405.

C. W. MacMinn & R. Juanes 2009 Post-injection spreading and trapping of CO2 in saline aquifers: impact of the plume shape at the end of injection. Comput. Geosci. 13, 483491.

J. M. Nordbotten , M. A. Celia , S. Bachu & H. K Dahle 2005 Semianalytical solution for CO2 leakage through an abandoned well. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39 (2), 602611.

J. C. Parker & R. J. Lenhard 1989 Vertical integration of three-phase flow equations for analysis of light hydrocarbon plume movement. Trans. Porous Med. 5, 187206.

G. F. Pinder & W. G. Gray 2008 Essentials of Multiphase Flow and Transport in Porous Media. Wiley.

A. Riaz & H. A. Tchelepi 2006 Numerical simulation of immiscible two-phase flow in porous media. Phys. Fluids 18, 014104.

E. Saadatpoor , S. L. Bryant & K. Sepehrnoori 2010 New trapping mechanisms in carbon sequestration. Trans. Porous Med. 82, 317.

Y. C. Yortsos 1995 A theoretical analysis of vertical flow equilibrium. Trans. Porous Med. 18 (2), 107129.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *