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Transport properties of the Callovo-Oxfordian clay rock under partially saturated conditions

Abstract : A series of experiments were performed to characterize the permeability, the specific storage, the capillary pressure, the streaming potential coupling coefficient, and the electrical conductivity of a very low permeability Callovo-Oxfordian clay rock at different water saturations. The Callovo-Oxfordian formation is presently investigated as a potential host to store nuclear wastes because of its very low permeability (typically 10 nd at saturation) and high specific surface area. We first present the constitutive transport equations including an electrokinetic cross-coupling term in the generalized Darcy and Ohm constitutive equations. Then we present new experimental results using measurements of transient weight losses of samples submitted to a change in the relative humidity imposed by an automated humidity system in a hermetic chamber. These experiments are interpreted with a 1-D analytical model of the coupled hydromechanical and transport equations. The hydromechanical transport properties (relative permeability and specific storage) of this clay rock are investigated in the relative saturation range from 0.23 to 0.70. We demonstrate that below 30% in relative humidity, the flux of the vapor phase with respect to the flux of the liquid water phase cannot be neglected. The relative apparent permeability can be described by a simple power law relationship with the saturation. In addition, we measure the electrical conductivity and the streaming potential coupling coefficient at various saturations. The electrical conductivity is described by a model accounting for electrical double-layer contributions to surface conductivity. The measurement of the streaming potential coupling coefficient agrees with a power law model for the coupling coefficient versus the relative water saturation. A relationship between the exponent used to characterize the relative permeability and the second Archie's exponent used to describe the dependence of the electrical conductivity of the material with respect to the saturation is discussed.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 11, 2011 - 11:10:19 AM
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D. Jougnot, A. Revil, N. Lu, A. Wayllace. Transport properties of the Callovo-Oxfordian clay rock under partially saturated conditions. Water Resources Research, American Geophysical Union, 2010, 46, pp.08514. ⟨10.1029/2009WR008552⟩. ⟨insu-00565207⟩



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