Computational Geosciences

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 789–812 | Cite as

A posteriori error estimates, stopping criteria, and adaptivity for two-phase flows

  • Martin VohralíkEmail author
  • Mary F. Wheeler
Original Paper


This paper develops a general abstract framework for a posteriori estimates for immiscible incompressible two-phase flows in porous media. We measure the error by the dual norm of the residual and, for mathematical correctness, employ the concept of global and complementary pressures in the analysis. Our estimators allow to estimate separately the different error components, namely, the spatial discretization error, the temporal discretization error, the linearization error, the iterative coupling error, and the algebraic solver error. We propose an adaptive algorithm wherein the different iterative procedures (iterative linearization, iterative coupling, iterative solution of linear systems) are stopped when the corresponding errors do not affect significantly the overall error and wherein the spatial and temporal errors are equilibrated. Consequently, important computational savings can be achieved while guaranteeing a user-given precision. The developed framework covers fully implicit, implicit pressure–explicit saturation, or iterative coupling formulations; conforming spatial discretization schemes such as the vertex-centered finite volume method or the finite element method and nonconforming spatial discretization schemes such as the cell-centered finite volume method, the mixed finite element method, or the discontinuous Galerkin method; linearizations such as the Newton or the fixed-point one; and general linear solvers. Numerical experiments for a model problem are presented to illustrate the theoretical results. Only by stopping timely the linear and nonlinear solvers, speedups by a factor between 10 and 20 in terms of the number of total linear solver iterations are achieved.


Two-phase flow A posteriori error estimate General framework Discretization error Linearization error Iterative coupling error Algebraic solver error 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions, UMR 7598UPMC University Paris 06ParisFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions, UMR 7598CNRSParisFrance
  3. 3.Institute for Computational Engineering and SciencesUniversity of TexasAustinUSA
  4. 4.INRIA Paris-RocquencourtLe ChesnayFrance

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