Anisotropic Mesh Adaptivity and Control Volume Finite Element Methods for Numerical Simulation of Multiphase Flow in Porous Media

Peyman Mostaghimi, James R. Percival, Dimitrios Pavlidis, Richard J. Ferrier, Jefferson L. M. A. Gomes, Gerard J. Gorman, Matthew D. Jackson, Stephen J. Neethling, Christopher C. Pain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Numerical simulation of multiphase flow in porous media is of great importance in a wide range of applications in science and engineering. The governing equations are the continuity equation and Darcy’s law. A novel control volume finite element (CVFE) approach is developed to discretize the governing equations in which a node-centered control volume approach is applied for the saturation equation, while a CVFE method is used for discretization of the pressure equation. We embed the discrete continuity equation into the pressure equation and ensure that the continuity equation is exactly enforced. Furthermore, the scheme is equipped with dynamic anisotropic mesh adaptivity which uses a metric tensor field approach, based on the curvature of fields of interest, to control the size and shape of elements in the metric space. This improves the resolution of the mesh in the zones of dynamic interest. Moreover, the mesh adaptivity algorithm employs multi-constraints on element size in different regions of the porous medium to resolve multi-scale transport phenomena. The advantages of mesh adaptivity and the capability of the scheme are demonstrated for simulation of flow in several challenging computational domains. The scheme captures the key features of flow while preserving the initial geometry and can be applied for efficient simulation of flow in heterogeneous porous media and geological formations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-440
Number of pages24
JournalMathematical Geosciences
Early online date22 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • Flow in geological formations
  • Porous media
  • Mesh adaptivity
  • Control volume finite element method
  • Multiphase flow


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