Effect of changing water salinity on complex conductivity spectra of sandstones

Andreas Weller, Katrin Breede, Lee Slater, Sven Nordsiek

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84 Scopus citations


We analyzed the influence of pore fluid composition on the complex electrical conductivity of three sandstones with differing porosity and permeability. The fluid electrical conductivity (σw) of sodium and calcium chloride solutions was gradually increased from 25 mS/m to 2300 mS/m. The expected linear relation between σw and the real component of electrical conductivity (σ') of the saturated samples was observed. The imaginary component (σ'') exhibits a steeper increase at lower salinities that flattens at higher salinities. For a glauconitic sandstone and a high porosity Bunter sandstone, σ'' approaches an asymptotic value at high salinities. Sodium cations result in larger values of σ'' than calcium cations in solutions of equal concentration. Debye decomposition was used to determine normalized chargeability (mn) and average relaxation time (τ) from spectral data. The behavior of σ'' is comparable to mn as both parameters measure the polarizability. At lower salinity, the relation between mn and σw approximates a power law with an exponent of ∼0.5. The average relaxation time shows only a weak dependence on σw. The normalized chargeability of sandstone samples can be described by the product of the pore space related internal surface and a quantity characterizing the polarizability of the mineral-fluid interface that depends on fluid chemistry. We introduce a new parameter, the specific polarizability, describing this dependence. We propose relations between polarizability and fluid chemistry that could be used to estimate pore space internal surface across samples of varying σw. We observe a consistent maximum polarizability for quartz dominated siliceous material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F315-F327
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Groundwater
  • Induced polarization (IP)
  • Rock physics
  • Spectral analysis


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