Three-dimensional flow and reaction in porous media: Implications for the Earth's mantle and sedimentary basins

E. Aharonov*, M. Spiegelman, P. Kelemen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


We present a theoretical and numerical study of the reorganization of a porous matrix due to fluid flow coupled with dissolution or precipitation processes. We find that under certain conditions, flow of corrosive fluids results in unstable growth of the permeability and increasing disequilibrium in fluid chemistry with time. High-permeability channels may form parallel to the direction of flow. In time, these channels cause the distribution of porosity to become increasingly correlated and anisotropic and cause flow rates to be increasingly variable. How coupled with crystallization has the opposite effect: With time, permeability reduction occurs at a decreasing rate. Mineral composition in the fluid approaches chemical equilibrium. Precipitation destroys existing preferred paths for flow and acts to homogenize and disperse the flow. Connectivity of the porous media is reduced. Implications of these results for two geological systems are discussed: (1) Modes of melt extraction from the Earth's mantle, where the expected different modes of flow and reaction may help explain different geochemical and geological observations at hot spots and mid-ocean ridges, and (2) Precipitation and formation of abnormal pressure zones in sedimentary basins.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number97JB00996
Pages (from-to)14821-14833
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue numberB7
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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