Nondestructive acoustics methods can be used to monitor in situ biofilm growth in porous media. In practice, however, acoustic methods remain underutilized due to the lack of models that can translate acoustic data into rock properties in the context of biofilm. In this paper we present mechanistic models of biofilm growth in porous media. The models are used to quantitatively interpret arrival times and amplitudes recorded in the 29 day long Davis et al. (2010) physical scale biostimulation experiment in terms of biofilm morphologies and saturation. The model pivots on addressing the sediment elastic behavior using the lower Hashin-Shtrikman bounds for grain mixing and Gassmann substitution for fluid saturation. The time-lapse P wave velocity (VP; a function of arrival times) is explained by a combination of two rock models (morphologies); "load bearing" which assumes the biofilm as an additional mineral in the rock matrix and "pore filling" which assumes the biofilm as an additional fluid phase in the pores. The time-lapse attenuation (QP-1; a function of amplitudes), on the other hand, can be explained adequately in two ways; first, through squirt flow where energy is lost from relative motion between rock matrix and pore fluid, and second, through an empirical function of porosity (φ), permeability (κ), and grain size. The squirt flow model-fitting results in higher internal φ (7% versus 5%) and more oblate pores (0.33 versus 0.67 aspect ratio) for the load-bearing morphology versus the pore-filling morphology. The empirical model-fitting results in up to 10% increase in κ at the initial stages of the load-bearing morphology. The two morphologies which exhibit distinct mechanical and hydraulic behavior could be a function of pore throat size. The biofilm mechanistic models developed in this study can be used for the interpretation of seismic data critical for the evaluation of biobarriers in bioremediation, microbial enhanced oil recovery, and CO2 sequestration.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Amplitude; Arrival Time; Biofilm; Elasticity; Flow Modeling; Growth Rate; Hydraulic Property; Porous Medium; Saturation; Wave Velocity; Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2014

Included in

Geology Commons