Tracer transport in a fractured chalk: X-ray CT characterization and digital-image-based (DIB) simulation

W. C. Zhu, J. Liu, D. Elsworth, A. Polak, A. Grader, J. C. Sheng, J. X. Liu

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29 Scopus citations


A digital-image-based simulation methodology is applied to evaluate the influence of heterogeneous porosity on the evolution of tracer concentrations in imaged tracer tests. Maps of computed tomography (CT)-number are calibrated relative to average porosity, and then thresholded to define porosity maps. These data are then used to automate the distribution of parameters within a finite element representation of the geometry. The technique is applied to characterize the variability of the porosity, the hydraulic conductivity, and the diffusivity for an artificially fractured chalk core (30 × 5 cm). X-ray CT was used both to characterize the initial condition of the core, and then to concurrently monitor the transport of an NaI tracer within the fracture and into the surrounding matrix. The X-ray CT imaging is used to characterize the heterogeneous rock porosity, based on which the hydraulic conductivity, and diffusivity of the chalk were defined and were directly imported into our newly developed three-dimensional FEMLAB-based multiple physics simulator. Numerical simulations have confirmed the observed tracer transport behaviors: (1) The different tracer-penetration distances imaged in the matrix above and below the horizontal fracture are indicative of a greater tracer mass penetrating into the lower matrix; and (2) Transport in the matrix below the fracture was enhanced. The computer simulated tracer concentration distributions compare favorably with those monitored by X-ray CT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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