Computational Geosciences

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 377–398 | Cite as

A comparison of multiscale methods for elliptic problems in porous media flow

  • Vegard Kippe
  • Jørg E. Aarnes
  • Knut-Andreas LieEmail author
Original paper


We review and perform comparison studies for three recent multiscale methods for solving elliptic problems in porous media flow; the multiscale mixed finite-element method, the numerical subgrid upscaling method, and the multiscale finite-volume method. These methods are based on a hierarchical strategy, where the global flow equations are solved on a coarsened mesh only. However, for each method, the discrete formulation of the partial differential equations on the coarse mesh is designed in a particular fashion to account for the impact of heterogeneous subgrid structures of the porous medium. The three multiscale methods produce solutions that are mass conservative on the underlying fine mesh. The methods may therefore be viewed as efficient, approximate fine-scale solvers, i.e., as an inexpensive alternative to solving the elliptic problem on the fine mesh. In addition, the methods may be utilized as an alternative to upscaling, as they generate mass-conservative solutions on the coarse mesh. We therefore choose to also compare the multiscale methods with a state-of-the-art upscaling method – the adaptive local–global upscaling method, which may be viewed as a multiscale method when coupled with a mass-conservative downscaling procedure. We investigate the properties of all four methods through a series of numerical experiments designed to reveal differences with regard to accuracy and robustness. The numerical experiments reveal particular problems with some of the methods, and these will be discussed in detail along with possible solutions. Next, we comment on implementational aspects and perform a simple analysis and comparison of the computational costs associated with each of the methods. Finally, we apply the three multiscale methods to a dynamic two-phase flow case and demonstrate that high efficiency and accurate results can be obtained when the subgrid computations are made part of a preprocessing step and not updated, or updated infrequently, throughout the simulation.


Porous media flow Multiscale methods Upscaling Numerical comparisons 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vegard Kippe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jørg E. Aarnes
    • 1
  • Knut-Andreas Lie
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Applied MathematicsSINTEF ICTOsloNorway
  2. 2.StatoilHydro Research CentreTrondheimNorway

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