Spatial fluctuations of fluid velocities in flow through a three-dimensional porous medium

Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Aug 9;111(6):064501. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.064501. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


We use confocal microscopy to directly visualize the spatial fluctuations in fluid flow through a three-dimensional porous medium. We find that the velocity magnitudes and the velocity components both along and transverse to the imposed flow direction are exponentially distributed, even with residual trapping of a second immiscible fluid. Moreover, we find pore-scale correlations in the flow that are determined by the geometry of the medium. Our results suggest that despite the considerable complexity of the pore space, fluid flow through it is not completely random.