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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 2, p. 500-505
    Received: June 2, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): kinzelbach@ihw.baug.ethz.ch
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Variations of Permeability and Pore Size Distribution of Porous Media with Pressure

  1. Quan Chena,
  2. Wolfgang Kinzelbach *b,
  3. Chaohui Yea and
  4. Yong Yuea
  1. a Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance and Atomic and Molecular Physics, Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 71010, Wuhan, 430071, China
    b Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Institute of Hydromechanics and Water Resources Management, ETH-Hoenggerberg, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland


Porosity and permeability of porous and fractured geological media decrease with the exploitation of formation fluids such as petroleum, natural gas, or ground water. This may result in ground subsidence and a decrease of recovery of petroleum, natural gas, or ground water. Therefore, an evaluation of the behavior of permeability and porosity under formation fluid pressure changes is important to petroleum and ground water industries. This study for the first time establishes a method, which allows for the measurement of permeability, porosity, and pore size distribution of cores simultaneously. From the observation of the pore size distribution by low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation time spectrometry the mechanisms of pressure-dependent porosity and permeability change can be derived. This information cannot be obtained by traditional methods. As the large-size pores or fractures contribute significantly to the permeability, their change consequently leads to a large permeability change. The contribution of fractures to permeability is even larger than that of pores. Thus, the permeability of the cores with fractures decreased more than that of cores without fractures during formation pressure decrease. Furthermore, it did not recover during formation pressure increase. It can be concluded that in fractures, mainly plastic deformation takes place, while matrix pores mainly show elastic deformation. Therefore, it is very important to keep an appropriate formation fluid pressure during the exploitation of ground water and petroleum in a fractured formation.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:500–505.