Pressure-dependent elastic and transport properties of porous and permeable rocks: Microstructural control

Although several studies aimed at linking electrical and hydraulic transport properties in rocks, the existing models remain at most incomplete. Based on this observation, in addition to the transport properties, this contribution investigates the pressure dependence of P wave velocities and porosity for three porous rocks. Apart from hydraulic conductivity, all physical properties show an important dependence to the confining pressure. In particular, electrical resistivity reaches an asymptote at low confining pressures. Using the measured P wave velocities and effective medium theories, the microcrack density and its evolution with confining pressure are estimated. For the three rocks, the microcrack density at which electrical resistivity reaches a plateau is of 0.13. This value corresponds to the threshold for crack percolation in media containing microcracks exclusively. This suggests that in porous and microcracked rocks, electrical resistivity is controlled by two independent hydraulic pathways of tubes and cracks acting in parallel. In contrast, this percolation threshold is not observed in the permeability data. A simple conceptual model is finally introduced that explains the fundamental differences between transport properties.

Published in:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Washington, Amer Geophysical Union

 Record created 2017-11-01, last modified 2018-12-03

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