Onset of transient convection in a porous medium with an embedded low-permeability layer

Emmanuel E. Luther, Seyed M. Shariatipour, Ran Holtzman, Michael C. Dallaston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Deep saline aquifers used for CO2 sequestration are commonly made of sedimentary formations consisting of several layers of distinguishable permeability. In this work, the effect of a non-monotonic, vertically varying permeability profile on the onset of convective instability is studied theoretically using linear stability analyses. The onset time depends on the interaction between the permeability profile and the location of the concentration perturbation peak beyond which the concentration of CO2 decays. A thin low-permeability layer can either accelerate or delay the onset time of the convective instability depending on the nature of the permeability variation – whether the permeability transition is smooth or layered, the Rayleigh number (Ra), and the location of the permeability change (a^) relative to the perturbation peak (a^c*), which scales as a^c*≈14Ra−1 for homogeneous systems. However, the low permeable layer has no effect on the onset time when it is near the lower boundary of a medium with sufficiently large Ra (a^c*≪a^). This nontrivial dependence highlights the implication of ignoring geological features of a small spatial extent, indicating the importance of a detailed characterization of CO2 storage sites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103490
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Early online date3 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) in Nigeria for funding this study. The authors appreciate the insightful discussions and comments from Dr. Hassan Hassanzadeh and Nasser Sabet.


  • Buoyancy-driven flow
  • Convective Instabilities
  • Layered Porous Media
  • Linear Stability Analysis
  • Quasi-Steady-State Approximation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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