Wetting Dynamics of Spontaneous Imbibition in Porous Media: From Pore Scale to Darcy Scale

Chao Zhong Qin, Xin Wang, Mahmoud Hefny, Jianlin Zhao, Sidian Chen, Bo Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Spontaneous imbibition plays an important role in many subsurface and industrial applications. Unveiling pore-scale wetting dynamics, and particularly its upscaling to the Darcy model, are still unresolved. We conduct image-based pore-network modeling of cocurrent spontaneous imbibition and the corresponding quasi-static imbibition in homogeneous sintered glass beads and heterogeneous Estaillades carbonate. We find that pore-scale heterogeneity significantly influences entrapment of the nonwetting fluid, which in Estaillades is mainly because of the poor connectivity of pores. We show that wetting dynamics significantly deviates capillary pressure and relative permeability away from their quasi-static counterparts. Moreover, we propose a nonequilibrium model for wetting permeability that well incorporates flow dynamics. We implement the nonequilibrium model into two-phase Darcy modeling of a 10 cm long medium. Sharp wetting fronts are numerically predicted, which are in good agreement with experimental observations. Our studies provide insights into developing a two-phase imbibition model with measurable material properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GL097269
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 28 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • nonequilibrium model
  • pore-scale modeling
  • relative permeability
  • spontaneous imbibition
  • wetting dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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