Geophysical Research Letters

Permeability of gypsum samples dehydrated in air



[1] We report on changes in rock permeability induced by devolatilization reactions using gypsum as a reference analog material. Cylindrical samples of natural alabaster were dehydrated in air (dry) for up to 800 h at ambient pressure and temperatures between 378 and 423 K. Subsequently, the reaction kinetics, so induced changes in porosity, and the concurrent evolution of sample permeability were constrained. Weighing the heated samples in predefined time intervals yielded the reaction progress where the stoichiometric mass balance indicated an ultimate and complete dehydration to anhydrite regardless of temperature. Porosity showed to continuously increase with reaction progress from approximately 2% to 30%, whilst the initial bulk volume remained unchanged. Within these limits permeability significantly increased with porosity by almost three orders of magnitude from approximately 7 × 10−19 m2 to 3 × 10−16 m2. We show that - when mechanical and hydraulic feedbacks can be excluded - permeability, reaction progress, and porosity are related unequivocally.