Rock Physics Research Group


Fractures and fracture networks have the greatest potential for compromising the integrity of subsurface reservoirs for CO2 sequestration. The ability to extract or sequester fluids and materials in the subsurface requires detailed information on the mechanical, hydraulic and chemical integrity of subsurface formations.  Current geophysical methods can provided either detailed information in a small volume adjacent to a borehole, or information over larger volumes, but at much lower spatial resolution.  To bridge this gap, nano- and/or micro- sensors could be distributed to target locations in the subsurface to provide local detailed information of the formation, fluids and microbial life.  The development and deployment of such sensors is listed as a need for physical, chemical and biological sensing in the DOE report on Basic Research Needs in Geosciences: Facilitating 21st Century Energy Systems 2007. The objective of this research is to determine how to control the injection and retrieval of sensor swarms within fracture networks.


60 micro-liter particle swarm falling under gravity in an open water tank 60 micro-liter particle swarm in 1mm Uniform Aperture Fracture falling under gravity



Particle Swarms in Fractures

Boomsma, E. and L. J. Pyrak-Nolte, 2015, in American Geophysical Union Monograph: Fluid Dynamics in Complex Fractured-Porous Systems,  (eds B. Faybishenko, S. M. Benson and J. E. Gale), John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Hoboken, NJ. 65-84. 2015


Colloid transport in porous media:  A review of classical mechanics and emerging topics

Molnar, I.L, Pensini, E., Asad, M. A., Mitchell, C.A., Nitsche, L.C., Pyrak-Nolte, L.J, and M.M. Krol, Transport in Porous Media, October 2019, vlume 130, issue 1, p129-156,