Permeability (earth sciences)

Permeability (Earth Sciences)

Permeability (earth sciences)

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Description:
Permeability in fluid mechanics and the earth sciences (commonly symbolized as κ, or k) is a measure of the ability of a porous material (often, a rock or unconsolidated material) to allow fluids to pass through it.

Units

The SI unit for permeability is m<sup>2</sup>. A traditional unit for permeability is the darcy (D), or more commonly the millidarcy (mD) (1&nbsp;darcy <math>approx</math>10<sup>&minus;12</sup>m<sup>2</sup>). The unit of cm<sup>2</sup> is also sometimes used (1&nbsp;m<sup>2</sup> = 10<sup>4</sup> cm<sup>2</sup>).

Applications

The concept of permeability is of importance in determining the flow characteristics of hydrocarbons in oil and gas reservoirs, and of groundwater in aquifers.

For a rock to be considered as an exploitable hydrocarbon reservoir without stimulation, its permeability must be greater than approximately 100 mD (depending on the nature of the hydrocarbon - gas reservoirs with lower permeabilities are still exploitable because of the lower viscosity of gas with respect to oil). Rocks with permeabilities significantly lower than 100 mD can form efficient seals (see petroleum geology). Unconsolidated sands may have permeabilities of over 5000 mD.

The concept has also many practical applications outside of geology, for example in chemical engineering (e.g., filtration).

Description

Permeability is part of the...
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