# Porosity

Used in geology,building science and hydrogeology, the porosity of a rock or sediment is the proportion of the non-solid volume to the total volume of material, and is defined by the ratio:

[itex]\phi = \frac{V_p}{V_m}[itex]

where Vp is the non-solid volume (pores and liquid) and Vm is the total volume of material, including the solid and non-solid parts. Both [itex]\phi[itex] and [itex]n[itex] 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, although it may also be represented in percent terms by multiplying the fraction by 100%.

The porosity of a rock, or sedimentary layer, is an important consideration when attempting to evaluate the potential volume of hydrocarbons it may contain. Sedimentary porosities are a complex 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:

[itex]\phi(z) = \phi_0 e^{-kz}[itex]

where φ0 is the surface porosity, k is the compaction coefficient (m-1) and z is depth (m).

A value for porosity can be calculated from the bulk density and particle density.

 Contents

## Porosity and hydraulic conductivity

Porosity is indirectly related to hydraulic conductivity; for two similar sandy aquifers, the one 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. Clays, which typically have very low hydraulic conductivity 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 very quickly.

## Sorting and porosity

Missing image
Well_sorted_vs_poorly_sorted_porosity.png
Effects of sorting on alluvial porosity

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 .

## Porosity of Rocks

Consolidated rocks (e.g. sandstone, shale, granite or limestone) potentially have more complex "dual" porosities, as compared with alluvial sediment. The rock itself may have a certain (low) porosity, and the fractures (cracks and joints), or dissolution features may create a second (higher) porosity. The interaction of these porosities is complex and often makes simple models highly inaccurate.

## Types of porosity

• Primary porosity is the main or original porosity system in a rock or unconfined alluvial deposit.
• Secondary porosity is a subsequent or separate porosity system in a rock, often enhancing overall porosity of a rock. This can be a result of chemical leeching 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 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 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 (this excludes dead-end pores or non-connected cavities). This is very important in solute transport.
• 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).

• Art and Cultures
• Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
• Space and Astronomy