EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Subpixel determination of wormhole tip position in 4D tomography of dissolving limestone cores

Rishabh Prakash Sharma1,2, Max P. Cooper1, Anthony J.C. Ladd3, and Piotr Szymczak1
Rishabh Prakash Sharma et al.
  • 1University of Warsaw, Faculty of Physics, Institute of Theoretical Physics, Warsaw, Poland (
  • 2Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  • 3Chemical Engineering Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Dissolution of porous rocks by reactive fluids is a highly nonlinear process resulting in a variety of dissolution patterns, the character of which depends on physical conditions such as flow rate and reactivity of the fluid. Long, finger-like dissolution channels, “wormholes”, are the main subject of interest in the literature, however, the underlying dynamics of their growth remains unclear. 

While analyzing the tomography data on wormhole growth.  one open question is to define the exact position of the tip of the wormhole. Near the tip the wormhole gradually thins out and the proper resolution of its features is hindered by the finite spatial resolution of the tomographs. In particular, we often observe in the near-tip region several disconnected regions of porosity growth, which - as we hypothesized - are connected by the dissolution channels at subpixel scale. In this study, we show how these features can be better resolved by using numerically calculated flow fields in the reconstructed pore-space. 

We used 70 micrometers, 16-bit grayscale X-ray computed microtomography (XCMT) time series scans of limestone cores, 14mm in diameter and 25mm in length. Scans were performed during the entire dissolution experiment with an interval of 8 minutes. These scans were further processed using a 3-phase segmentation proposed by Luquot et al.[1], in which grayscale voxels are converted to macro-porosity, micro-porosity and grain phases from their grayscale values. The macro-porous phase is assigned a porosity of 1, while the grain phase is assigned 0. Micro-porous regions are assigned an intermediate value determined by linear interpolation between pore and grain threshold using grayscale values. An OpenFOAM based, Darcy-Brinkman solver, porousFoam, is then used to calculate the flow field in this extracted porosity field. 

Porosity contours reconstructed from the tomographs show some disconnected porosity growth near the tip region which later become part of the wormhole in subsequent scans. We have used a novel approach by including the micro-porosity phase in pore-space to calculate the flow-fields in the near-tip region. The calculated flow fields clearly show an extended region of focused flow in front of the wormhole tip, which is a manifestation of the presence of a wormhole at the subpixel scale. These results show that micro-porosity plays an important role in dissolution and 3-phase segmentation combined with the flow field calculations is able to capture the sub-resolved dissolution channels. 


 [1] Luquot, L., Rodriguez, O., and Gouze, P.: Experimental characterization of porosity structure and transport property changes in limestone undergoing different dissolution regimes, Transport Porous Med., 101, 507–532, 2014

How to cite: Sharma, R. P., Cooper, M. P., Ladd, A. J. C., and Szymczak, P.: Subpixel determination of wormhole tip position in 4D tomography of dissolving limestone cores, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14962,, 2021.

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