Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void (i.e. "empty") spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0 and 1, or as a percentage between 0% and 100%. Strictly speaking, some tests measure the "accessible void", the total amount of void space accessible from the surface (cf. closed-cell foam). There are many ways to test porosity in a substance or part, such as industrial CT scanning. The term porosity is used in multiple fields including pharmaceutics, ceramics, metallurgy, materials, manufacturing, hydrology, earth sciences, soil mechanics and engineering.

Void fraction in two-phase flow

In gas-liquid two-phase flow, the void fraction is defined as the fraction of the flow-channel volume that is occupied by the gas phase or, alternatively, as the fraction of the cross-sectional area of the channel that is occupied by the gas phase.[1] Void fraction usually varies from location to location in the flow channel (depending on the two-phase flow pattern). It fluctuates with time and its value is usually time averaged. In separated (i.e., non-homogeneous) flow, it is related to volumetric flow rates of the gas and the liquid phase, and to the ratio of the velocity of the two phases (called slip ratio).

Porosity in earth sciences and construction

Used in geology, hydrogeology, soil science, and building science, the porosity of a porous medium (such as rock or sediment) describes the fraction of void space in the material, where the void may contain, for example, air or water. It is defined by the ratio:

where VV is the volume of void-space (such as fluids) and VT is the total or bulk volume of material, including the solid and void components. Both the mathematical symbols and are used to denote porosity.

Porosity is a fraction between 0 and 1, typically ranging from less than 0.01 for solid granite to more than 0.5 for peat and clay.

The porosity of a rock, or sedimentary layer, is an important consideration when attempting to evaluate the potential volume of water or hydrocarbons it may contain. Sedimentary porosity is a complicated function of many factors, including but not limited to: rate of burial, depth of burial, the nature of the connate fluids, the nature of overlying sediments (which may impede fluid expulsion). One commonly used relationship between porosity and depth is given by the Athy (1930) equation:[2]

where is the surface porosity, is the compaction coefficient (m−1) and is depth (m).

A value for porosity can alternatively be calculated from the bulk density , saturating fluid density and particle density :

If the void space is filled with air, the following simpler form may be used:

Normal particle density is assumed to be approximately 2.65 g/cm3 (silica), although a better estimation can be obtained by examining the lithology of the particles.

Porosity and hydraulic conductivity

Porosity can be proportional to hydraulic conductivity; for two similar sandy aquifers, the one with a higher porosity will typically have a higher hydraulic conductivity (more open area for the flow of water), but there are many complications to this relationship. The principal complication is that there is not a direct proportionality between porosity and hydraulic conductivity but rather an inferred proportionality. There is a clear proportionality between pore throat radii and hydraulic conductivity. Also, there tends to be a proportionality between pore throat radii and pore volume. If the proportionality between pore throat radii and porosity exists then a proportionality between porosity and hydraulic conductivity may exist. However, as grain size or sorting decreases the proportionality between pore throat radii and porosity begins to fail and therefore so does the proportionality between porosity and hydraulic conductivity. For example: clays typically have very low hydraulic conductivity (due to their small pore throat radii) but also have very high porosities (due to the structured nature of clay minerals), which means clays can hold a large volume of water per volume of bulk material, but they do not release water rapidly and therefore have low hydraulic conductivity.

Sorting and porosity

Well sorted vs poorly sorted porosity
Effects of sorting on alluvial porosity. Black represents solids, blue represents pore space.

Well sorted (grains of approximately all one size) materials have higher porosity than similarly sized poorly sorted materials (where smaller particles fill the gaps between larger particles). The graphic illustrates how some smaller grains can effectively fill the pores (where all water flow takes place), drastically reducing porosity and hydraulic conductivity, while only being a small fraction of the total volume of the material. For tables of common porosity values for earth materials, see the "further reading" section in the Hydrogeology article.

Porosity of rocks

Consolidated rocks (e.g., sandstone, shale, granite or limestone) potentially have more complex "dual" porosities, as compared with alluvial sediment. This can be split into connected and unconnected porosity. Connected porosity is more easily measured through the volume of gas or liquid that can flow into the rock, whereas fluids cannot access unconnected pores.

Porosity is the ratio of pore volume to its total volume. Porosity is controlled by: rock type, pore distribution, cementation, diagenetic history and composition. Porosity is not controlled by grain size, as the volume of between-grain space is related only to the method of grain packing.

Rocks normally decrease in porosity with age and depth of burial. Tertiary age Gulf Coast sandstones are in general more porous than Cambrian age sandstones. There are exceptions to this rule, usually because of the depth of burial and thermal history.

Porosity of soil

Porosity of surface soil typically decreases as particle size increases. This is due to soil aggregate formation in finer textured surface soils when subject to soil biological processes. Aggregation involves particulate adhesion and higher resistance to compaction. Typical bulk density of sandy soil is between 1.5 and 1.7 g/cm3. This calculates to a porosity between 0.43 and 0.36. Typical bulk density of clay soil is between 1.1 and 1.3 g/cm3. This calculates to a porosity between 0.58 and 0.51. This seems counterintuitive because clay soils are termed heavy, implying lower porosity. Heavy apparently refers to a gravitational moisture content effect in combination with terminology that harkens back to the relative force required to pull a tillage implement through the clayey soil at field moisture content as compared to sand.

Porosity of subsurface soil is lower than in surface soil due to compaction by gravity. Porosity of 0.20 is considered normal for unsorted gravel size material at depths below the biomantle. Porosity in finer material below the aggregating influence of pedogenesis can be expected to approximate this value.

Soil porosity is complex. Traditional models regard porosity as continuous. This fails to account for anomalous features and produces only approximate results. Furthermore, it cannot help model the influence of environmental factors which affect pore geometry. A number of more complex models have been proposed, including fractals, bubble theory, cracking theory, Boolean grain process, packed sphere, and numerous other models. The characterisation of pore space in soil is an associated concept.

Types of geologic porosities

Primary porosity
The main or original porosity system in a rock or unconfined alluvial deposit.
Secondary porosity
A subsequent or separate porosity system in a rock, often enhancing overall porosity of a rock. This can be a result of chemical leaching of minerals or the generation of a fracture system. This can replace the primary porosity or coexist with it (see dual porosity below).
Fracture porosity
This is porosity associated with a fracture system or faulting. This can create secondary porosity in rocks that otherwise would not be reservoirs for hydrocarbons due to their primary porosity being destroyed (for example due to depth of burial) or of a rock type not normally considered a reservoir (for example igneous intrusions or metasediments).
Vuggy porosity
This is secondary porosity generated by dissolution of large features (such as macrofossils) in carbonate rocks leaving large holes, vugs, or even caves.
Effective porosity (also called open porosity)
Refers to the fraction of the total volume in which fluid flow is effectively taking place and includes catenary and dead-end (as these pores cannot be flushed, but they can cause fluid movement by release of pressure like gas expansion[3]) pores and excludes closed pores (or non-connected cavities). This is very important for groundwater and petroleum flow, as well as for solute transport.
Ineffective porosity (also called closed porosity)
Refers to the fraction of the total volume in which fluids or gases are present but in which fluid flow can not effectively take place and includes the closed pores. Understanding the morphology of the porosity is thus very important for groundwater and petroleum flow.
Dual porosity
Refers to the conceptual idea that there are two overlapping reservoirs which interact. In fractured rock aquifers, the rock mass and fractures are often simulated as being two overlapping but distinct bodies. Delayed yield, and leaky aquifer flow solutions are both mathematically similar solutions to that obtained for dual porosity; in all three cases water comes from two mathematically different reservoirs (whether or not they are physically different).
In solids (i.e. excluding aggregated materials such as soils), the term 'macroporosity' refers to pores greater than 50 nm in diameter. Flow through macropores is described by bulk diffusion.
In solids (i.e. excluding aggregated materials such as soils), the term 'mesoporosity' refers to pores greater than 2 nm and less than 50 nm in diameter. Flow through mesopores is described by Knudsen diffusion.
In solids (i.e. excluding aggregated materials such as soils), the term 'microporosity' refers to pores smaller than 2 nm in diameter. Movement in micropores is activated by diffusion.

Porosity of fabric or aerodynamic porosity

The ratio of holes to solid that the wind "sees". Aerodynamic porosity is less than visual porosity, by an amount that depends on the constriction of holes.

Die casting porosity

Casting porosity is a consequence of one or more of the following: gasification of contaminants at molten-metal temperatures; shrinkage that takes place as molten metal solidifies; and unexpected or uncontrolled changes in temperature or humidity.

While porosity is inherent in die casting manufacturing, its presence may lead to component failure where pressure integrity is a critical characteristic. Porosity may take on several forms from interconnected micro-porosity, folds, and inclusions to macro porosity visible on the part surface. The end result of porosity is the creation of a leak path through the walls of a casting that prevents the part from holding pressure. Porosity may also lead to out-gassing during the painting process, leaching of plating acids and tool chatter in machining pressed metal components.[4]

Measuring porosity

Porosity thin section GP
Optical method of measuring porosity: thin section under gypsum plate shows porosity as purple color, contrasted with carbonate grains of other colors. Pleistocene eolianite from San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Scale bar 500 μm.

Several methods can be employed to measure porosity:

  • Direct methods (determining the bulk volume of the porous sample, and then determining the volume of the skeletal material with no pores (pore volume = total volume − material volume).
  • Optical methods (e.g., determining the area of the material versus the area of the pores visible under the microscope). The "areal" and "volumetric" porosities are equal for porous media with random structure.[5]
  • Computed tomography method (using industrial CT scanning to create a 3D rendering of external and internal geometry, including voids. Then implementing a defect analysis utilizing computer software)
  • Imbibition methods,[5] i.e., immersion of the porous sample, under vacuum, in a fluid that preferentially wets the pores.
    • Water saturation method (pore volume = total volume of water − volume of water left after soaking).
  • Water evaporation method (pore volume = (weight of saturated sample − weight of dried sample)/density of water)
  • Mercury intrusion porosimetry (several non-mercury intrusion techniques have been developed due to toxicological concerns, and the fact that mercury tends to form amalgams with several metals and alloys).
  • Gas expansion method.[5] A sample of known bulk volume is enclosed in a container of known volume. It is connected to another container with a known volume which is evacuated (i.e., near vacuum pressure). When a valve connecting the two containers is opened, gas passes from the first container to the second until a uniform pressure distribution is attained. Using ideal gas law, the volume of the pores is calculated as


VV is the effective volume of the pores,
VT is the bulk volume of the sample,
Va is the volume of the container containing the sample,
Vb is the volume of the evacuated container,
P1 is the initial pressure in the initial pressure in volume Va and VV, and
P2 is final pressure present in the entire system.
The porosity follows straightforwardly by its proper definition
Note that this method assumes that gas communicates between the pores and the surrounding volume. In practice, this means that the pores must not be closed cavities.
  • Thermoporosimetry and cryoporometry. A small crystal of a liquid melts at a lower temperature than the bulk liquid, as given by the Gibbs-Thomson equation. Thus if a liquid is imbibed into a porous material, and frozen, the melting temperature will provide information on the pore-size distribution. The detection of the melting can be done by sensing the transient heat flows during phase-changes using differential scanning calorimetry – (DSC thermoporometry),[6] measuring the quantity of mobile liquid using nuclear magnetic resonance – (NMR cryoporometry)[7] or measuring the amplitude of neutron scattering from the imbibed crystalline or liquid phases – (ND cryoporometry).[8]

See also


  • Glasbey, C. A.; G. W. Horgan; J. F. Darbyshire (September 1991). "Image analysis and three-dimensional modelling of pores in soil aggregates". Journal of Soil Science. 42 (3): 479–86. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2389.1991.tb00424.x.
  • Horgan, G. W.; B. C. Ball (1994). "Simulating diffusion in a Boolean model of soil pores". European Journal of Soil Science. 45 (4): 483–91. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2389.1994.tb00534.x.
  • Horgan, Graham W. (1996-10-01). "A review of soil pore models" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-04-16. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Horgan, G. W. (June 1998). "Mathematical morphology for soil image analysis". European Journal of Soil Science. 49 (2): 161–73. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2389.1998.00160.x.
  • Horgan, G. W. (February 1999). "An investigation of the geometric influences on pore space diffusion". Geoderma. 88 (1–2): 55–71. Bibcode:1999Geode..88...55H. doi:10.1016/S0016-7061(98)00075-5.
  • Nelson, J. Roy (January 2000). "Physics of impregnation" (PDF). Microscopy Today. 8 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-27.
  • Rouquerol, Jean (December 2011). "Liquid intrusion and alternative methods for the characterization of macroporous materials (IUPAC Technical Report)*" (PDF). Pure Appl. Chem. 84 (1): 107–36. doi:10.1351/pac-rep-10-11-19.


  1. ^ G.F. Hewitt, G.L. Shires, Y.V.Polezhaev (editors), "International Encyclopedia of Heat and Mass Transfer", CRC Press, 1997.
  2. ^ ATHY L.F., 1930. Density, porosity and compactation of sedimentary rocks, Bull. Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol. v. 14, pp. 1-24.
  3. ^ Effective and Ineffective Porosity or Total and Effective Porosity Explained at E&P Geology.com
  4. ^ "How to Fix Die Casting Porosity?". Godfrey & Wing.
  5. ^ a b c F.A.L. Dullien, "Porous Media. Fluid Transport and Pore Structure", Academic Press, 1992.
  6. ^ Brun, M.; Lallemand, A.; Quinson, J-F.; Eyraud, C. (1977). "A new method for the simultaneous determination of the size and the shape of pores: The Thermoporometry". Thermochimica Acta. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Amsterdam. 21: 59–88. doi:10.1016/0040-6031(77)85122-8
  7. ^ Mitchell, J.; Webber, J. Beau W.; Strange, J.H. (2008). "Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Cryoporometry" (PDF). Phys. Rep. 461 (1): 1–36. Bibcode:2008PhR...461....1M. doi:10.1016/j.physrep.2008.02.001
  8. ^ Webber, J. Beau W.; Dore, John C. (2008). "Neutron Diffraction Cryoporometry – a measurement technique for studying mesoporous materials and the phases of contained liquids and their crystalline forms" (PDF). Nucl. Instrum. Methods A. 586 (2): 356–66. Bibcode:2008NIMPA.586..356W. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2007.12.004

External links


Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component for the gel has been replaced with a gas. The result is a solid with extremely low density and extremely low thermal conductivity. Nicknames include frozen smoke, solid smoke, solid air, solid cloud, blue smoke owing to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material. It feels like fragile expanded polystyrene to the touch. Aerogels can be made from a variety of chemical compounds.Aerogel was first created by Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931, as a result of a bet with Charles Learned over who could replace the liquid in "jellies" with gas without causing shrinkage.Aerogels are produced by extracting the liquid component of a gel through supercritical drying. This allows the liquid to be slowly dried off without causing the solid matrix in the gel to collapse from capillary action, as would happen with conventional evaporation. The first aerogels were produced from silica gels. Kistler's later work involved aerogels based on alumina, chromia and tin dioxide. Carbon aerogels were first developed in the late 1980s.Aerogel is not a single material with a set chemical formula; instead, the term is used to group all materials with a certain geometric structure.


Angrites are a rare group of achondrites consisting mostly of the mineral augite with some olivine, anorthite and troilite. The group is named for the Angra dos Reis meteorite.

Angrites are basaltic rocks, often having porosity, with vesicle diameters of up to 2.5 centimetres (0.98 in).

They are the oldest igneous rocks, with crystallization ages of around 4.55 billion years.

Casting defect

A casting defect is an undesired irregularity in a metal casting process. Some defects can be tolerated while others can be repaired, otherwise they must be eliminated. They are broken down into five main categories: gas porosity, shrinkage defects, mold material defects, pouring metal defects, and metallurgical defects.

Clastic rock

Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals and rock. A clast is a fragment of geological detritus, chunks and smaller grains of rock broken off other rocks by physical weathering. Geologists use the term clastic with reference to sedimentary rocks as well as to particles in sediment transport whether in suspension or as bed load, and in sediment deposits.

Coalbed methane

Coalbed methane (CBM or coal-bed methane), coalbed gas, coal seam gas (CSG), or coal-mine methane (CMM) is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries.

The term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called 'sweet gas' because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk. Coalbed methane is distinct from a typical sandstone or other conventional gas reservoir, as the methane is stored within the coal by a process called adsorption. The methane is in a near-liquid state, lining the inside of pores within the coal (called the matrix). The open fractures in the coal (called the cleats) can also contain free gas or can be saturated with water.Unlike much natural gas from conventional reservoirs, coalbed methane contains very little heavier hydrocarbons such as propane or butane, and no natural-gas condensate. It often contains up to a few percent carbon dioxide.

Compaction (geology)

In sedimentology, compaction is the process by which a sediment progressively loses its porosity due to the effects of pressure from loading. This forms part of the process of lithification. When a layer of sediment is originally deposited, it contains an open framework of particles with the pore space being usually filled with water. As more sediment is deposited above the layer, the effect of the increased loading is to increase the particle-to-particle stresses resulting in porosity reduction primarily through a more efficient packing of the particles and to a lesser extent through elastic compression and pressure solution. The initial porosity of a sediment depends on its lithology. Mudstones start with porosities of >60%, sandstones typically ~40% and carbonates sometimes as high as 70%. Results from hydrocarbon exploration wells show clear porosity reduction trends with depth.In sediments compacted under self-weight, especially in sedimentary basins,the porosity profiles often show an exponential decrease, called Athy's law as first shown by Athy in 1930. A mathematical analytical solution was obtained by Fowler and Yang to show the theoretical basis for Athy's law. This process can be easily observed in experiments and used as a good approximation to many real data.

Curly Girl Method

The Curly Girl Method is an approach to hair care designed for naturally curly hair that has not been chemically relaxed. It is similar to the "no poo" method in that it discourages the use of shampoo. Among other things, it calls for the use of a cleansing conditioner in place of shampoo (also called "conditioner washing" or "co-washing"), no silicones (used in many commercial conditioners and styling products), the use of a diffuser when blowdrying, and no combs, brushes, or terrycloth towels. It also includes tips for using hair gel and other styling products. The aim in general is to treat naturally curly hair gently, minimizing damage to the hair cuticle; to keep it moisturized, since curly hair is more prone to dryness than straight hair; and, perhaps most significantly, to accentuate rather than interfere with the hair's natural curl pattern.The most prominent curly hair classification system groups curly types from 2 to 4 and A to C (representing increasing tightness of the curl) with type 1 representing the complete absence of curl (or straight hair). Type 2 typically encompasses varying degrees of wavy hair, Type 3 contains loose, spiraled curls, and Type 4 includes tighter curls, kinks, and coils.


Diagenesis ( ) is the process that describes physical and chemical changes in sediments caused by increasing temperature and pressure as they get buried in the Earth's crust. In the early stages, this transformation of sediment into sedimentary rock, (lithification) is accompanied simply by a reduction in porosity, while its component mineralogy remains unaltered. As the rock is carried deeper by further deposition above, its organic content is transformed into kerogens and bitumens. The process of diagenesis excludes surface alteration (weathering) and metamorphism. There is no sharp boundary between diagenesis and metamorphism, but the latter occurs at higher temperatures and pressures. Hydrothermal solutions, meteoric groundwater, porosity, permeability, solubility, and time are all influential factors.

After deposition, sediments are compacted as they are buried beneath successive layers of sediment and cemented by minerals that precipitate from solution. Grains of sediment, rock fragments and fossils can be replaced by other minerals during diagenesis. Porosity usually decreases during diagenesis, except in rare cases such as dissolution of minerals and dolomitization.

The study of diagenesis in rocks is used to understand the geologic history they have undergone and the nature and type of fluids that have circulated through them. From a commercial standpoint, such studies aid in assessing the likelihood of finding various economically viable mineral and hydrocarbon deposits.

The process of diagenesis is also important in the decomposition of bone tissue.

Going (horse racing)

Going (UK), track condition (US) or track rating (AUS) are the track surface of a horse racing track prior to a horse race or race meet. The going is determined by the amount of moisture in the ground and is assessed by an official steward on the day of the race.

The condition of a race track plays an important role in the performance of horses in a race. The factors that go into determining race track condition include the surface conditions, type of surface, and track configuration. The surface conditions are influenced by the type of surface factoring in soil type, and if the track is dirt, turf, artificial surface; plus surface density, porosity, compaction and moisture content.[3]


Lithification (from the Ancient Greek word lithos meaning 'rock' and the Latin-derived suffix -ific) is the process in which sediments compact under pressure, expel connate fluids, and gradually become solid rock. Essentially, lithification is a process of porosity destruction through compaction and cementation. Lithification includes all the processes which convert unconsolidated sediments into sedimentary rocks. Petrifaction, though often used as a synonym, is more specifically used to describe the replacement of organic material by silica in the formation of fossils.

Mesoporous material

A mesoporous material is a material containing pores with diameters between 2 and 50 nm, according to IUPAC nomenclature. For comparison, IUPAC defines microporous material as a material having pores smaller than 2 nm in diameter and macroporous material as a material having pores larger than 50 nm in diameter.

Typical mesoporous materials include some kinds of silica and alumina that have similarly-sized mesopores. Mesoporous oxides of niobium, tantalum, titanium, zirconium, cerium and tin have also been reported. However, the flagship of mesoporous materials is mesoporous carbon, which has direct applications in energy storage devices. Mesoporous carbon has porosity within the mesopore range and this significantly increases the specific surface area. Another very common mesoporous material is Activated Carbon which is typically composed of a carbon framework with both mesoporosity and microporosity depending on the conditions under which it was synthesized.

According to IUPAC, a mesoporous material can be disordered or ordered in a mesostructure. In crystalline inorganic materials, mesoporous structure noticeably limits the number of lattice units, and this significantly changes the solid-state chemistry. For example, the battery performance of mesoporous electroactive materials is significantly different from that of their bulk structure.A procedure for producing mesoporous materials (silica) was patented around 1970, and methods based on the Stöber process from 1968 were still in use in 2015. It went almost unnoticed and was reproduced in 1997. Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) were independently synthesized in 1990 by researchers in Japan. They were later produced also at Mobil Corporation laboratories and named Mobil Crystalline Materials, or MCM-41. The initial synthetic methods did not permit to control the quality of the secondary level of porosity generated. It was only by employing quaternary ammonium cations and silanization agents during the synthesis that the materials exhibited a true level of hierarchical porosity and enhanced textural properties.Since then, research in this field has steadily grown. Notable examples of prospective industrial applications are catalysis, sorption, gas sensing, ion exchange, optics, and photovoltaics.

It should be taken into account that this mesoporosity refers to the classification of nanoscale porosity, and mesopores may be defined differently in other contexts; for example, mesopores are defined as cavities with sizes in the range 30 μm–75 μm in the context of porous aggregations such as soil.

Petroleum reservoir

A petroleum reservoir or oil and gas reservoir is a subsurface pool of hydrocarbons contained in porous or fractured rock formations. Petroleum reservoirs are broadly classified as conventional and unconventional reservoirs. In case of conventional reservoirs, the naturally occurring hydrocarbons, such as crude oil or natural gas, are trapped by overlying rock formations with lower permeability. While in unconventional reservoirs the rocks have high porosity and low permeability which keeps the hydrocarbons trapped in place, therefore not requiring a cap rock. Reservoirs are found using hydrocarbon exploration methods.


Petrophysics (from the Greek πέτρα, petra, "rock" and φύσις, physis, "nature") is the study of physical and chemical rock properties and their interactions with fluids.A major application of petrophysics is in studying reservoirs for the hydrocarbon industry. Petrophysicists are employed to help reservoir engineers and geoscientists understand the rock properties of the reservoir, particularly how pores in the subsurface are interconnected, controlling the accumulation and migration of hydrocarbons. Some of the key properties studied in petrophysics are lithology, porosity, water saturation, permeability and density. A key aspect of petrophysics is measuring and evaluating these rock properties by acquiring well log measurements – in which a string of measurement tools are inserted in the borehole, core measurements – in which rock samples are retrieved from subsurface, and seismic measurements. These studies are then combined with geological and geophysical studies and reservoir engineering to give a complete picture of the reservoir.

While most petrophysicists work in the hydrocarbon industry, some also work in the mining and water resource industries. The properties measured or computed fall into three broad categories: conventional petrophysical properties, rock mechanical properties, and ore quality.

Petrophysical studies are used by petroleum engineering, geology, mineralogy, exploration geophysics and other related studies.

Pore space in soil

The pore space of soil contains the liquid and gas phases of soil, i.e., everything but the solid phase that contains mainly minerals of varying sizes as well as organic compounds.

In order to understand porosity better a series of equations have been used to express the quantitative interactions between the three phases of soil.

Macropores or fractures play a major role in infiltration rates in many soils as well as preferential flow patterns, hydraulic conductivity and evapotranspiration. Cracks are also very influential in gas exchange, influencing respiration within soils. Modeling cracks therefore helps understand how these processes work and what the effects of changes in soil cracking such as compaction, can have on these processes.

Porous medium

A porous medium or a porous material is a material containing pores (voids). The skeletal portion of the material is often called the "matrix" or "frame". The pores are typically filled with a fluid (liquid or gas). The skeletal material is usually a solid, but structures like foams are often also usefully analyzed using concept of porous media.

A porous medium is most often characterised by its porosity. Other properties of the medium (e.g. permeability, tensile strength, electrical conductivity, tortuosity) can sometimes be derived from the respective properties of its constituents (solid matrix and fluid) and the media porosity and pores structure, but such a derivation is usually complex. Even the concept of porosity is only straightforward for a poroelastic medium.

Often both the solid matrix and the pore network (also known as the pore space) are continuous, so as to form two interpenetrating continua such as in a sponge. However, there is also a concept of closed porosity and effective porosity, i.e. the pore space accessible to flow.

Many natural substances such as rocks and soil (e.g. aquifers, petroleum reservoirs), zeolites, biological tissues (e.g. bones, wood, cork), and man made materials such as cements and ceramics can be considered as porous media. Many of their important properties can only be rationalized by considering them to be porous media.

The concept of porous media is used in many areas of applied science and engineering: filtration, mechanics (acoustics, geomechanics, soil mechanics, rock mechanics), engineering (petroleum engineering, bioremediation, construction engineering), geosciences (hydrogeology, petroleum geology, geophysics), biology and biophysics, material science.

Reservoir modeling

In the oil and gas industry, reservoir modeling involves the construction of a computer model of a petroleum reservoir, for the purposes of improving estimation of reserves and making decisions regarding the development of the field, predicting future production, placing additional wells, and evaluating alternative reservoir management scenarios.

A reservoir model represents the physical space of the reservoir by an array of discrete cells, delineated by a grid which may be regular or irregular. The array of cells is usually three-dimensional, although 1D and 2D models are sometimes used. Values for attributes such as porosity, permeability and water saturation are associated with each cell. The value of each attribute is implicitly deemed to apply uniformly throughout the volume of the reservoir represented by the cell.

Soil morphology

Soil morphology is the field observable attributes of the soil within the various soil horizons and the description of the kind and arrangement of the horizons. C.F. Marbut championed reliance on soil morphology instead of on theories of pedogenesis for soil classification because theories of soil genesis are both ephemeral and dynamic.The observable attributes ordinarily described in the field include the composition, form, soil structure and organization of the soil, color of the base soil and features such as mottling, distribution of roots and pores, evidence of translocated materials such as carbonates, iron, manganese, carbon and clay, and the consistence of the soil.

The observations are typically performed on a soil profile. A profile is a vertical cut, two-dimensional, in the soil and bounds one side of a pedon. The pedon is the smallest three-dimensional unit, but not less than 1 meter square on top, that captures the lateral range of variability.

Void ratio

The void ratio of a mixture is the ratio of the volume of voids to volume of solids.

It is a dimensionless quantity in materials science, and is closely related to porosity as follows:


where is void ratio, is porosity, VV is the volume of void-space (such as fluids), VS is the volume of solids, and VT is the total or bulk volume. This figure is relevant in composites, in mining (particular with regard to the properties of tailings), and in soil science. In geotechnical engineering, it is considered as one of the state variables of soils and represented by the symbol e.

Note that in geotechnical engineering, the symbol usually represents the angle of shearing resistance, a shear strength (soil) parameter. Because of this, the equation is usually rewritten using for porosity:


where is void ratio, is porosity, VV is the volume of void-space (air and water), VS is the volume of solids, and VT is the total or bulk volume.

Well logging

Well logging, also known as borehole logging is the practice of making a detailed record (a well log) of the geologic formations penetrated by a borehole. The log may be based either on visual inspection of samples brought to the surface (geological logs) or on physical measurements made by instruments lowered into the hole (geophysical logs). Some types of geophysical well logs can be done during any phase of a well's history: drilling, completing, producing, or abandoning. Well logging is performed in boreholes drilled for the oil and gas, groundwater, mineral and geothermal exploration, as well as part of environmental and geotechnical studies.

Physical aquifer properties used in hydrogeology
Retaining walls
Numerical analysis


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