We study how the dynamics of a drying front propagating through a porous medium are affected by small-scale correlations in material properties. For this, we first present drying experiments in microfluidic micromodels of porous media. Here, the fluid pressures develop more intermittent dynamics as local correlations are added to the structure of the pore spaces. We also consider this problem numerically, using a model of invasion percolation with trapping, and find that there is a crossover in invasion behavior associated with the length scale of the disorder in the system. The critical exponents that describe large enough events are similar to the classic invasion percolation problem, while the addition of a finite correlation length significantly affects the exponent values of avalanches and bursts, up to some characteristic size. We find that even a weak local structure can interfere with the universality of invasion percolation phenomena. This has implications for a variety of multiphase flow problems, such as drying, drainage, and fluid invasion.
Bibliographical note13 pages, 9 figures