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Two-phase Flow in Porous Media: Sharp Fronts and the Saffman-Taylor Instability

PDE and Applied Math Seminar

Speaker: Michael Shearer, North Carolina State University
Location: 1147 MSB
Start time: Tue, Apr 3 2012, 3:10PM

Plane waves for two phase flow in a porous medium are modeled by the one-dimensional Buckley-Leverett equation, a scalar conservation law. In the first part of the talk, we study traveling wave solutions of the equation modified by the Gray-Hassanizadeh model for rate-dependent capillary pressure. The modification adds a BBM-type dispersion to the classic equation, giving rise to undercompressive waves. In the second part of the talk, we analyze stability of sharp planar interfaces (corresponding to Lax shocks) to two-dimensional perturbations, which involves a system of partial differential equations. The Saffman-Taylor analysis predicts instability of planar fronts, but their calculation lacks the dependence on saturations in the Buckley-Leverett equation. Interestingly, the dispersion relation we derive leads to the conclusion that some interfaces are long-wave stable and some are not. Numerical simulations of the full nonlinear system of equations, including dissipation and dispersion, verify the stability predictions at the hyperbolic level. This is joint work with Kim Spayd and Zhengzheng Hu.