Pore scale spatial analysis of two immiscible fluids in porous media

Haim Gvirtzman*, Paul V. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


A conceptual model is introduced describing the spatial distribution of two immiscible fluids in the pore space of sphere packings. The model is based on the ideal soil concept of homogeneous arrangement of identical spheres but is generalized to include random packing. It quantitatively analyzes the interfacial area between wetting and nonwetting fluids and between the fluids and the solid spheres, as a function of the saturation degree. These relationships depend on the packing arrangement of the spheres, the sphere radius, and the fluid‐solid contact angle. The model focuses on the region of low saturation of the wetting phase, where the wetting phase is comprised of pendular rings. When the nonwetting phase appears as ganglia, the model assumes single‐chamber ganglia. Three‐dimensional graphical illustrations are provided. Three potential applications are pointed out: (1) to quantify the water‐air interface in the unsaturated zone; (2) to analyze connate water interfacial area in petroleum reservoirs and to assess the effect of surfactants during enhanced oil recovery; and (3) to estimate the interface between groundwater and floating nonaqueous phase liquids above the water table.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1165-1176
Number of pages12
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991


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