Simulation of flow through heterogeneous media often requires discretizing the flow domain into blocks and assigning an equivalent block conductivity value to each one of them. The process of defining block conductivities from point values is termed upscaling. A number of approaches to upscaling are available, most of which consider the uncertainty associated with any natural property, so that they cast the problem in a stochastic frame. Recently, Indelman and Dagan (1993a, b) provided a general stochastic methodology to upscaling in heterogeneous anisotropic formations by means of the dissipation energy function; unfortunately, they did not provide any “practical” method to compute block values from point ones. The objective of this work is twofold: First, we analyze different practical approaches to compute block conductivities and find that all of them provide very similar results in terms of actual computed values; second, we check that all approaches verify approximately a number of conditions stated by Indelman and Dagan (1993a). Specifically, we show analytically that for regular blocks, the methodologies of both Rubin and Gómez‐Hernández (1990) and Desbarats (1992) (which we call “practical” methodologies) satisfy the condition that the effective conductivity obtained from a field where the elementary conductivities are defined over a certain support (we call this the actual formation) is identical to that obtained from the same field with conductivities defined at a larger support (upscaled formation). The analysis is carried out by working with the logarithm of block conductivities and using a small‐perturbation expansion and thus is strictly valid for small variances. On the other hand, we show numerically that the two methodologies satisfy approximately an important condition stated in terms of the dissipation energy: that block‐averaged dissipation values computed are indeed very close to the true dissipation values in each block. The agreement is even better if we consider statistical moments instead of point values. As an important conclusion we should note that all practical methodologies considered in this work perform equally well and, more important, constitute a simple way to treat an otherwise very complex problem.

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Published on 01/01/1995

DOI: 10.1029/94WR02754
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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