A Technical Note: Theory of Spontaneous Versus Induced Capillary Imbibition

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The prevailing current wisdom about how to properly formulate an algorithm to describe spontaneous and coupled spontaneous/induced capillary imbibition into and through the interstices of porous Darcian scale sediments implies, but perhaps incorrectly, that the early empirical relations of Buckley and Leverett (1942) can safely be employed. Here this persistently popular point of view is found to be inadequate since it overlooks taking into full account how common sense suggests that it is surface energy gradient driving forces which are the underlying cause for the occurrences of these processes. Specifically it will be noted that a satisfactory algorithm to model cases where spontaneous capillary imbibition occurs will not be one which ignores the fact that necessarily the local free surface energy is continuously diminished in magnitude until a minimum value together with a maximum entropy condition has been reached. Hence, the conclusion is drawn herein that the Buckley–Leverett formulations alone at best can only be used to describe what is called those induced capillary imbibition processes caused by the action of mechanical energy driving forces.

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