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Digital rock physics and laboratory considerations on a high-porosity volcanic rock

: Schepp, L.L.; Ahrens, B.; Balcewicz, M.; Duda, M.; Nehler, M.; Osorno, M.; Uribe, D.; Steeb, H.; Nigon, B.; Stöckhert, F.; Swanson, D.A.; Siegert, M.; Gurris, M.; Saenger, E.H.

Volltext ()

Scientific Reports 10 (2020), Art. 5840, 16 S.
ISSN: 2045-2322
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IEG ()

Digital rock physics combines microtomographic imaging with advanced numerical simulations of effective material properties. It is used to complement laboratory investigations with the aim to gain a deeper understanding of relevant physical processes related to transport and effective mechanical properties. We apply digital rock physics to reticulite, a natural mineral with a strong analogy to synthetic open-cell foams. We consider reticulite an end-member for high-porosity materials with a high stiffness and brittleness. For this specific material, hydro-mechanical experiments are very difficult to perform. Reticulite is a pyroclastic rock formed during intense Hawaiian fountaining events. The honeycombed network of bubbles is supported by glassy threads and forms a structure with a porosity of more than 80%. Comparing experimental with numerical results and theoretical estimates, we demonstrate the high potential of in situ characterization with respect to the investigation of effective material properties. We show that a digital rock physics workflow, so far applied to conventional rocks, yields reasonable results for high-porosity rocks and can be adopted for fabricated foam-like materials with similar properties. Numerically determined porosities, effective elastic properties, thermal conductivities and permeabilities of reticulite show a fair agreement to experimental results that required exeptionally high experimental efforts.