Abstract Pore-scale events in multiphase flow in porous rock have been directly imaged in real time by using fast (15 to 60 seconds) synchrotron-based X-ray computed microtomography. In the past, pore-scale fluid displacements in porous media could only be imaged under quasistatic conditions where at scanning times of several minutes to hours, fluid distributions were subject to capillary redistribution. Here, pore-scale displacement events in porous rock were imaged in situ in real time in natural rock under dynamic flow conditions, where the pressure gradient and the viscocapillary balance were maintained during scanning. Two elementary processes, Haines jumps in drainage and snap-off in imbibition, were studied in detail for sintered glass, sandstone, and carbonate rock. We found that most Haines jump events do not displace the wetting phase pore-by-pore, but typically involve 10 to 20 individual pores and that filling events are cooperative. We also found that in sandstone rock 64% of the externally applied work is actually dissipated during these jumps and approximately 36% is converted into interfacial energy.
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