24/04/2020 : Velocity distributions, dispersion and stretching in three-dimensional porous media

M.Souzy, H.Lhuissier, Y.Méheust, T.Le Borgne and B.Metzger

Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IUSTI, UMR 7343, 13453 Marseille, France

Geosciences Rennes, UMR 6118, Université de Rennes 1, CNRS, 35042 Rennes, France
(Received 29 July 2019; revised 13 December 2019; accepted 5 February 2020)

Using index-matching and particle tracking, we measure the three-dimensional velocity field in an isotropic porous medium composed of randomly packed solid spheres. This high resolution experimental dataset provides new insights into the dynamics of dispersion and stretching in porous media. Dynamic-range velocity measurements indicate that the distribution of the velocity magnitude, U, is flat at low velocity (p(U) ~ U^0). While such a distribution should lead to a persistent anomalous dispersion process for advected non-diffusive point-particles, we show that the dispersion of non-diffusive tracers nonetheless becomes Fickian beyond a time set by the smallest effective velocity of the tracers. We derive expressions for the onset time of the Fickian regime and the longitudinal and transverse dispersion coefficients as a function of the velocity field properties. The experimental velocity field is also used to study, by numerical advection, the stretching histories of fluid material lines. The mean and the variance of the line elongations are found to grow exponentially in time and the distribution of elongation is log-normal. These results confirm the chaotic nature of advection within three-dimensional porous media. By providing the laws of dispersion and stretching, the present study opens the way to a complete description of mixing in porous media