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Dedolomitization establishes flow pathways in Thalassinoides-bearing limestones: a quantitative case study using pore network model and flow simulation

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The pore space of rocks acts as a storage for geofluids (oil, gas, water, CO2, contaminants, and metal-enriched solutions) and has been the target of studies approaching fluid flow in different scales. The behavior of fluid phases in porous media has had an increasing interest with the development of high-resolution imaging techniques (e.g., micro- and nano-computed tomography) and scanning microscopy. However, the characterization of the complex pore systems associated with bioturbated limestones is still incipient on the microscale. An integrated approach involving imaging techniques and petrographic analysis was necessary to understand the development of pore connections in dolomitized Thalassinoides galleries. In this study, the porosity distributed inside an intricate network of tubular Thalassinoides burrows is strongly controlled by different diagenetic processes that caused cement precipitation and dissolution of allochem grains and cements through time. High-resolution micro-computed tomography images allowed reconstruction of the 3D pore network model and supported quantitative analysis based on 4831 pores and 2141 throats extracted from the volume of interest. We determined connected pores along axes X, Y, and Z. Only five percent of the pore radii are larger than 5 µm and connected with more than 5 pores. There is a general trend of more connections associated with the large pores. However, the flow pathways have pore connectivity controlled by interactions pore-to-pore in dissolved dolomite crystals. This confirms results from simulations inside the porous zones associated with dolomites. Single-phase flow calculated absolute permeability of 191.9 (X), 0.0 (Y), and 36.76 md (Z). Two-phase flow simulations computed capillary pressures, resistivity indexes, and relative permeabilities curves during primary drainage, imbibition, and secondary drainage to quantify the effectiveness of this biogenically influenced porous conduits.

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We thank itt Fuse laboratories for all facilities during this work and micro-CT data acquisition. Thermo Fisher Scientific provided Avizo and PerGeos licenses for data processing and fluid flow simulations. Mauro Bruno helped with the figure edition.


FMWT thanks the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq proc. 311204/2017–1). OCPC thanks the financial support provided by SONANGOL Exploration and Production.

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Authors and Affiliations



O. C. P. C.: conceptualization, methodology, micro-CT processing, 3D modeling and original manuscript. F. M. W. T.: conceptualization, field trip, petrography, supervision and writing/editing. A. Z.: conceptualization, permeability estimation, flow simulation and review/editing. T. S. S.: conceptualization, software facilities and supervision.

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Correspondence to Francisco Manoel Wohnrath Tognoli.

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The authors declare they have no competing interests.

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Responsible Editor: Santanu Banerjee


• Effective flow pathways develop in dolomitic limestone bearing Thalassinoides ichnogenus.

• Dedolomitization promotes pore connections and establishes fluid flow pathways.

• High-resolution micro-CT images generate a 3D pore network model that provided accurate pore and throat size measurements.

• Single- and two-phase flow simulations determined the absolute permeability of 191.9 (X), 0 (Y), and 36.76 md (Z) and the behavior of oil and water during primary drainage, imbibition, and secondary drainage.

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da Costa Pedro Calombe, O., Wohnrath Tognoli, F., Zolfaghari, A. et al. Dedolomitization establishes flow pathways in Thalassinoides-bearing limestones: a quantitative case study using pore network model and flow simulation. Arab J Geosci 16, 174 (2023).

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