• Open Access

Effective conductivity and permittivity of unsaturated porous materials in the frequency range 1 mHz–1GHz


  • A. Revil

    Corresponding author
    1. ISTerre, CNRS, UMR CNRS 5275, Université de Savoie, Le Bourget du Lac, France
    • Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines, Green Center, Golden, Colorado, USA
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Corresponding author: A. Revil, Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines, Green Center, 1500 Illinois street, Golden, CO 80401, USA. (arevil@mines.edu)


[1] A model combining low-frequency complex conductivity and high-frequency permittivity is developed in the frequency range from 1 mHz to 1 GHz. The low-frequency conductivity depends on pore water and surface conductivities. Surface conductivity is controlled by the electrical diffuse layer, the outer component of the electrical double layer coating the surface of the minerals. The frequency dependence of the effective quadrature conductivity shows three domains. Below a critical frequency fp, which depends on the dynamic pore throat size Λ, the quadrature conductivity is frequency dependent. Between fp and a second critical frequency fd, the quadrature conductivity is generally well described by a plateau when clay minerals are present in the material. Clay-free porous materials with a narrow grain size distribution are described by a Cole-Cole model. The characteristic frequency fd controls the transition between double layer polarization and the effect of the high-frequency permittivity of the material. The Maxwell-Wagner polarization is found to be relatively negligible. For a broad range of frequencies below 1 MHz, the effective permittivity exhibits a strong dependence with the cation exchange capacity and the specific surface area. At high frequency, above the critical frequency fd, the effective permittivity reaches a high-frequency asymptotic limit that is controlled by the two Archie's exponents m and n like the low-frequency electrical conductivity. The unified model is compared with various data sets from the literature and is able to explain fairly well a broad number of observations with a very small number of textural and electrochemical parameters. It could be therefore used to interpret induced polarization, induction-based electromagnetic methods, and ground penetrating radar data to characterize the vadose zone.