A theory of macrodispersion for the scale-up problem

J. Glimm, W. B. Lindquist, F. Pereira, Q. Zhang

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80 Scopus citations


Dispersion is the result, observable on large length scales, of events which are random on small length scales. When the length scale on which the randomness operates is not small, relative to the observations, then classical dispersion theory fails. The scale up problem refers to situations in which randomness occurs on all length scales, and for which classical dispersion theory necessarily fails. The purpose of this article is to present non-Fickian, theories of dispersion, which do not assume a scale separation between the randomness and the observed consequences, and which do not assume a single length scale. Porous media flow properties are heterogeneous on all length scales. The geological variation on length scales below the observational length scale can be regarded as unknown and unknowable, and thus as a random variable. We develop a systematic theory relating scaling behavior of the geological heterogeneity to the scaling behavior of the fluid dispersivity. Three qualitatively distinct regimes (Fickian, non-Fickian and nonrenormalizable) are found. The theory gives consistent answers within several distinct analytic approximations, and with numerical simulation of the equations of porous media flow. Comparison to field data is made. The use of Kriging to generate constrained ensembles for conditional simulation is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-122
Number of pages26
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1993


  • Scale up
  • dispersion
  • porous media
  • random field


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