Seismic waves affect fluid flow and transport processes in porous media. Therefore, quantitative understanding of the role of seismic waves in subsurface hydrodynamics is important for the development of practical applications and prediction of natural phenomena. We present a theoretical fluid dynamics model to describe how low-frequency elastic waves mobilize isolated droplets trapped in pores by capillary resistance. The ability of the theoretical model to predict the critical mobilization amplitudes (Ac) and the displacement dynamics of the nonwetting droplet are validated against computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. Our theory has the advantage of rapid calculation of Ac for various scenarios. Both theory and CFD simulations show that the Ac increases with increasing wave frequency. The theoretical and computational models agree well in the low-frequency range both in terms of predicting the displacement history of the droplet and its eventual dislodgment, but their results begin to diverge with increasing wave frequency since the Hagen-Poiseuille flow approximation in the model becomes invalid. Relative to a previous "viscous seismic model," our model compares more favorably to experimental observations. The model is thus appropriate for predicting trapped nonwetting droplet dynamics in and dislodgement from pore constrictions by low-frequency elastic waves.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This material is based upon work supported as part of the Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security (CFSES) at the University of Texas at Austin, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under award DE-SC0001114.

Keywords and Phrases

Computational fluid dynamics simulations; Computational model; Control volumes; Displacement dynamics; Hagen-Poiseuille flow; Low frequency range; Theoretical fluid dynamics; Theoretical modeling; Computational fluid dynamics; Dynamics; Forecasting; Porous materials; Seismic waves; Drops; amplitude; Droplet; Elastic wave; Flow modeling; Fluid flow; Hydrodynamics; Porous medium; Simulation; Transport process; Wetting; Droplet mobilization; Moving-boundary control volume; Porous media

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0043-1397; 1944-7973

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2013 American Geophysical Union (AGU), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2013