Self-similar evolution of fluid velocity and stress heterogeneities into a porous limestone during dissolution
Published by: Linga, G., Mathiesen, J., and Renard, F.
(left) Schematic setup of the model. (right) Simulated 3-D volume, after three dissolution steps, with fluid velocity streamlines and von Mises stress in the solid. The upper half has been clipped to display the fluid phase.
In a porous rock, the spatial distribution of the pore space induces a strong heterogeneity in fluid flow rates and in the stress distribution in the rock mass. If the rock microstructure evolves through time, for example, by dissolution, fluid flow and stress will evolve accordingly. Here we consider a core sample of porous limestone that has undergone several steps of dissolution. Based on 3-D X-ray tomography scans, we calculate numerically the coupled system of fluid flow in the pore space and stress in the solid. We determine how the flow field affects the stress distribution both at the pore wall surface and in the bulk of the solid matrix. We show that during dissolution, the heterogeneous stress evolves in a self-similar manner as the porosity is increased. Conversely, the fluid velocity shows a stretched exponential distribution. The scalings of these common master distributions offer a unified description of the porosity evolution, pore flow, and the heterogeneity in stress for a rock with evolving microstructure. Moreover, the probability density functions of stress invariants (mechanical pressure or von Mises stress) display heavy tails toward large stresses. If these results can be extended to other kinds of rocks, they provide an additional explanation of the sensitivity to failure of porous rocks under slight changes of stress.