Research Goals and Approach
The complexity of hydrogeology rests on the nature of subsurface geologic formations that presents heterogeneities at all scales while being the locus of coupled non-trivial physical, chemical and biological processes in addition to being intricately influenced by other portions of the earth system as well as anthropogenic activity.
In the Porous Media Flow Lab, we aim to advance our knowledge of the fundamentals of fluid flow, transport and reactions in geological formations and improve simulation and prediction by:
visualizing and quantifying complex physical and geochemical processes, such as multiphase flow dynamics and reactive transport, at the pore (µm) to core (cm) scale.
characterizing and monitoring subsurface systems at the field scale.
Digital Rock Physics
We develop novel laboratory methods and experiments at the pore-scale (µm-mm) and core-scale (mm-cm) that provide unique datasets that are crucial to better identify and understand the relevant mechanisms controlling subsurface environment dynamics, their scale, and their interplay.
are used to relate macro-scale rock and fluid properties measured on rock cores to micro-scale structural and interfacial properties inferred with X-ray micro-CT imaging and SEM.
enable direct visualization of flow, transport and chemical processes in glass or polymeric micromodels mimicking soil and rock microstructures.
We generate 3D models of geomaterials using high resolution imaging of complex pore geometries and advanced image analysis and conduct pore-scale numerical simulations of effective flow and transport properties.
We acquire and integrate data from specific sites, allowing:
Field characterization (stratigraphy logs, well logs, water levels, well tests, water quality)
Hydrological and geochemical monitoring
Addressing critical environmental issues
The research conducted in the Porous Media Flow Lab focuses on two increasingly concerning environmental issues:
the sustainability of groundwater resources
the transition towards low carbon energy systems
Any studies on fluids (water, gases, organic contaminants,…) migrating through subsurface soils and rocks requires a detailed understanding of fluid flow in soil and rocks, the diverse factors impacting fluid flow, and the impact of flow heterogeneities on transport properties. These include natural and artificial aquifer recharge, groundwater contamination and remediation, as well as geothermal resources, CO2 storage in geological formations and geologic hydrogen production.
Aquifer Recharge and Contamination
The movement of water through the vadose zone, the portion of the subsurface above the water table, is critical to both the natural recharge of aquifers and the fate and transport of microorganisms, nutrients and chemicals in the subsurface. The complexity comes from the:
high spatial variability of physical properties and associated soil moisture conditions and preferential flows,
high temporal variability of water fluxes and dependence of water content on wetting/drying history.
This results in complex physical and chemical gradients controlling geochemical and microbial reactions, which in turn affect flow.
Geologic Carbon Storage (GCS) is a technology necessary to meet the growing energy demand while achieving climate targets that have been set.
The fundamental science underlying GCS and its short to long-term efficiency and security, involves multi-scale coupling of multiphase flow, geochemistry and geomechanics.
NSF - MRI
GA Environmental Protection Division
A Multi-Faceted Approach for Understanding Hydrologic Controls on Transmission Losses in Dryland Environments
NSF - IRES