Is There a Critical Distance for Fickian Transport? - a Statistical Approach to Sub-Fickian Transport Modelling in Porous Media

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Sebastian Most1, Wolfgang Nowak1 and Branko Bijeljic2, (1)University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany, (2)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom
Transport processes in porous media are frequently simulated as particle movement. This process can be formulated as a stochastic process of particle position increments. At the pore scale, the geometry and micro-heterogeneities prohibit the commonly made assumption of independent and normally distributed increments to represent dispersion. Many recent particle methods seek to loosen this assumption. Recent experimental data suggest that we have not yet reached the end of the need to generalize, because particle increments show statistical dependency beyond linear correlation and over many time steps. The goal of this work is to better understand the validity regions of commonly made assumptions. We are investigating after what transport distances can we observe:
  1. A statistical dependence between increments, that can be modelled as an order-k Markov process, boils down to order 1. This would be the Markovian distance for the process, where the validity of yet-unexplored non-Gaussian-but-Markovian random walks would start.
  2. A bivariate statistical dependence that simplifies to a multi-Gaussian dependence based on simple linear correlation (validity of correlated PTRW).
  3. Complete absence of statistical dependence (validity of classical PTRW/CTRW). 

The approach is to derive a statistical model for pore-scale transport from a powerful experimental data set via copula analysis. The model is formulated as a non-Gaussian, mutually dependent Markov process of higher order, which allows us to investigate the validity ranges of simpler models.