Transport in Porous Media

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 91–105 | Cite as

Low-frequency dilatational wave propagation through unsaturated porous media containing two immiscible fluids

  • Wei-Cheng Lo
  • Garrison Sposito
  • Ernest Majer
Original Paper


An analytical theory is presented for the low-frequency behavior of dilatational waves propagating through a homogeneous elastic porous medium containing two immiscible fluids. The theory is based on the Berryman–Thigpen–Chin (BTC) model, in which capillary pressure effects are neglected. We show that the BTC model equations in the frequency domain can be transformed, at sufficiently low frequencies, into a dissipative wave equation (telegraph equation) and a propagating wave equation in the time domain. These partial differential equations describe two independent modes of dilatational wave motion that are analogous to the Biot fast and slow compressional waves in a single-fluid system. The equations can be solved analytically under a variety of initial and boundary conditions. The stipulation of “low frequency” underlying the derivation of our equations in the time domain is shown to require that the excitation frequency of wave motions be much smaller than a critical frequency. This frequency is shown to be the inverse of an intrinsic time scale that depends on an effective kinematic shear viscosity of the interstitial fluids and the intrinsic permeability of the porous medium. Numerical calculations indicate that the critical frequency in both unconsolidated and consolidated materials containing water and a nonaqueous phase liquid ranges typically from kHz to MHz. Thus engineering problems involving the dynamic response of an unsaturated porous medium to low excitation frequencies (e.g., seismic wave stimulation) should be accurately modeled by our equations after suitable initial and boundary conditions are imposed.


Dilatational waves Immiscible fluid flow Poroelastic behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei-Cheng Lo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Garrison Sposito
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ernest Majer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Hydraulic and Ocean EngineeringNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of GeophysicsLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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