The effect of vertically varying permeability on tracer dispersion

Hinton, Edward M and Woods, Andrew W. (2019) The effect of vertically varying permeability on tracer dispersion. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 860. pp. 384-407. ISSN 0022-1120 DOI

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We study the migration of a tracer within an injection-driven flow in a horizontal aquifer in which the permeability varies with depth. The permeability gradient produces a shear and this leads to lateral dispersion of the tracer. In the high permeability regions, the tracer moves substantially faster than the mean flow and eventually enters the nose region of the flow where the depth of the current is less than the depth of the aquifer. Depending on the influence of (i) the viscosity contrast between the injected fluid and the original fluid, and (ii) the vertical permeability gradient, the nose of the current may be of fixed shape or may gradually lengthen with time. This leads to a variety of patterns of dispersal of the tracer, which may either remain in the nose or cycle through the nose and be left behind. Our results illustrate the complexity of the migration of a tracer in a heterogeneous aquifer which has important implications for interpreting the results of tracer tests as may be proposed for monitoring or gas injected into subsurface reservoirs.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2018AREP; IA74
Subjects: 05 - Petrology - Igneous, Metamorphic and Volcanic Studies
Divisions: 05 - Petrology - Igneous, Metamorphic and Volcanic Studies
12 - PhD
99 - Other
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume: 860
Page Range: pp. 384-407
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2019 13:49
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2019 13:49

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