UCL Earth Sciences


Rock Fluids Laboratory

Laboratory Manager: Professor Tom Mitchell

A range of activities are performed in this laboratory. The area houses a variety of apparatus for the Rock & Ice Physics research group. Graduate and undergraduate experimental projects are also performed in this laboratory. 

Rock Fluids Laboratory

Ultra-sensitive wide-range permeameter system:

We have developed a servo-controlled steady-state-flow permeameter that can measure over the range of >1D (>10-12m2) to << 1nD (<<10-21m2). The system operates at confining pressures up to 300 MPa and incorporates instrumentation to allow simultaneous changes in porosity and elastic wave velocities (P and S).

This uniquely allows porosity-permeability and velocity-porosity-permeability relationships to be established with great confidence since all measurements are made on the same rock sample. Directional coring also allows quantitative assessment of velocity, porosity and permeability anisotropy to be established.

The measurement range encompasses all rock types; from highly permeable reservoir sandstones to the relatively impermeable shales and unfractured crystalline rocks that act as cap-rocks or permeability barriers.

Magnetic susceptibility bridge for pore fabric analysis

We have developed a technique for saturating the pore space or crack volume of rocks with a highly susceptible ferrofluid (comprising a suspension of nano-particles of magnetite in a carrier fluid). This provides the void space with a high artificial susceptibility that can be measured with our magnetic susceptibility bridge.

We make measurements in 15 fixed orientations and this allows us to construct a magnetic susceptibility ellipsoid that quantifies the average fabric of the anisotropic void space within the rock. We find that the principal anisotropy directions of the void space are closely related to the principal anisotropy directions of the fluid permeability.