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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Research Staff

Publication details for Dr Katherine Dobson

Dobson, K.J., Coban, S.B., McDonald, S.A., Walsh, J., Atwood, R. & Withers, P.J. (2016). 4D imaging of sub-second dynamics in pore-scale processes using real time synchrotron x-ray tomography. Solid Earth Discussions 1-27.

Author(s) from Durham


A variable volume flow cell has been integrated with state-of-the-art ultra-high speed synchrotron x-ray tomography imaging. The combination allows the first real time (sub-second) capture of dynamic pore (micron) scale fluid transport processes in 4D (3D + time). With 3D data volumes acquired at up to 20 Hz, we perform in situ experiments that capture high frequency pore-scale dynamics in 5–25 mm diameter samples with voxel (3D equivalent of a pixel) resolution of 2.5 to 3.8 µm. The data are free from motion artefacts, can be spatially registered or collected in the same orientation making them suitable for detailed quantitative analysis of the dynamic fluid distribution pathways and processes. The method presented here are capable of capturing a wide range of high frequency non equilibrium pore-scale processed including wetting, dilution, mixing and reaction phenomena, without sacrificing significant spatial resolution. As well as fast streaming (continuous acquisition) at 20 Hz, it also allows larger-scale and longer term experimental runs to be sampled intermittently at lower frequency (time-lapse imaging); benefiting from fast image acquisition rates to prevent motion blur in highly dynamic systems. This marks a major technical breakthrough for quantification of high frequency pore scale processes: processes that are critical for developing and validating more accurate multiscale flow models through spatially and temporally heterogeneous pore networks.


A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Solid Earth (SE).