Heterogeneous porous media in hydrology



In natural geologic formations, flow and transport-related processes are perturbed by multidimensional and anisotropic material heterogeneities of diverse sizes, shapes, and origins (bedding, layering, inclusions, fractures, grains, for example). Heterogeneity tends to disperse and mix transported quantities and may initiate new transfer mechanisms not seen in ideally homogeneous porous media. Effective properties such as conductivity and dispersivity may not be simple averages of locally measured quantities.

The special session, “Effective Constitutive Laws for Heterogeneous Porous Media,” convened at AGU's 1992 Fall Meeting in San Francisco, addressed these issue. Over forty-five contributions, both oral and poster, covering a broad range of physical phenomena were presented. The common theme was the macroscale characterization and modeling of flow and flow-related processes in geologic media that are heterogeneous at various scales (from grain size or fracture aperture, up to regional scales). The processes analyzed in the session included coupled hydro-mechanical processes; Darcy-type flow in the saturated, unsaturated, or two-phase regimes; tracer transport, dilution, and dispersion. These processes were studied for either continuous (porous) or discontinuous (fractured) media.