Subcore scale fluid flow behavior in a sandstone with cataclastic deformation bands

Carla R. Romano, Christopher Zahasky, Charlotte Garing, James M. Minto, Sally M. Benson, Zoe K. Shipton, Rebecca J. Lunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Accurate determination of petrophysical and multiphase flow properties in sandstones is necessary for reservoir characterization, for instance for carbon dioxide and hydrogen storage in geological formations or for enhanced oil recovery. Several studies have examined the effect of heterogeneities, such as fractures, bedding planes and laminae, on core-scale fluid flow. However, the influence of deformation bands that commonly occur in high porosity sandstones, is poorly understood. In this study, we consider a core sample of Navajo sandstone characterized by diagonally oriented deformation bands and two laminae perpendicular to the core axis, as determined from micro X-ray computed tomography (micro-CT). Positron emission tomography (PET) is used to derive the single phase hydrodynamic properties of the core. A CO2 drainage experiment is conducted in the water-saturated core and imaged with a medical X-ray CT scanner. Medical CT enables CO2 saturation quantification with increasing CO2 injection rate. Experimental results and the accompanying numerical simulations indicate that both the laminae and the deformation bands act as capillary barriers, with the laminae forming weaker capillary barriers than the deformation bands. The deformation bands have lower permeability and porosity due to grain crushing, and a very high capillary entry pressure that inhibits CO2 migration across the bands. At the reservoir scale, deformation bands form conjugate sets and are often present in thick anastomosing clusters that define lozenge-shaped compartments. These findings have important consequences for subsurface fluid flow. For example, the presence of deformation bands may reduce the storage capacity and injectivity in carbon storage reservoirs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019WR026715
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number4
Early online date3 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • deformation bands
  • multiphase fluid flow
  • capillary heterogeneity
  • X‐ray computed tomography
  • positron emission tomography


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  • Stanford University

    Carla Romano (Visiting researcher)

    2 Apr 201830 Jul 2018

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

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