On Permeability Prediction From Complex Conductivity Measurements Using Polarization Magnitude and Relaxation Time

Judith Robinson, Lee Slater, Andreas Weller, Kristina Keating, Tonian Robinson, Carla Rose, Beth Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Geophysical length scales determined from complex conductivity (CC) measurements can be used to estimate permeability k when the electrical formation factor F is known. Two geophysical length scales have been proposed: (1) the specific polarizability cp normalized by the imaginary conductivity (Formula presented.) and (2) the time constant τ multiplied by a diffusion coefficient D+. The parameters cp and D+ account for the control of fluid chemistry and/or varying minerology on the geophysical length scale. We evaluated the predictive capability of two CC permeability models: (1) an empirical formulation based on (Formula presented.) or normalized chargeability mn and (2) a mechanistic formulation based on τ. The performance of the CC models was evaluated against measured k; and further compared against that of well-established k estimation equations that use geometric length scales. Both CC models predict permeability within one order of magnitude for a database of 58 sandstone samples, with the exception of samples characterized by high pore volume normalized surface area Spor. Variations in cp and D+ likely contribute to the poor model performance for the high Spor samples, which contain significant dolomite. Two observations favor the implementation of the (Formula presented.) -based model over the τ -based model for field-scale k estimation: (1) a limited range of variation in cp relative to D+ and (2) (Formula presented.) field measurements are less time consuming to acquire relative to τ. The need for a reliable field-estimate of F limits application of either model, in particular the (Formula presented.) model due to a high power law exponent associated with F.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3436-3452
Number of pages17
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


  • complex conductivity
  • permeability
  • polarization magnitude
  • sedimentary rocks
  • time constant


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