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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Electrical Conductivity of Clayey Rocks and Soils: A Non‐Linear Model


It is well-accepted that Archie's law is only applicable to “clean” rocks and soils but fails in “dirty” ones where clay minerals possess an additional component of surface conductivity. Although several models, for example, Waxman-Smits model, were presented to account for this phenomenon, surface conductivity is always inappropriately treated as constant, which actually only holds at high salinities. The essential non-linear characteristic differing over fluid salinities has not been physically or mathematically explained well in those models. We scrutinize the conduction mechanism of clayey rocks and soils and ascribe this non-linear feature to (a) variation of the electrical double layer and (b) the intrinsic clay-and-water conduction pattern. With effective medium theory, we develop an easy-to-use non-linear model that both reflects electrochemical theories and explains the measurement data well. Our model can be used to produce more accurate results for laboratory- and field-scale petrophysical parameter evaluations than the previous models.

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