A systematic investigation of capillary pressure, relative permeability, and fluid flow characteristics within diatomite (a high porosity, low permeability, siliceous rock) is reported. Using an X-ray computerized tomography (CT) scanner, and a specially constructed imbibition cell, we study spontaneous cocurrent water imbibition into diatomite samples at various initial water saturations. Air-water and oil-water systems are used. Despite a marked difference in rock properties between diatomite and sandstone, including permeability and porosity, we find similar trends in saturation profiles and dimensionless weight gain versus time functions. Diatomite is roughly 100 times less permeable than sandstone, yet it imbibes water at rates rivaling sandstone. Importantly, the spontaneous imbibition data when combined with CT-scan images provides a means to determine dynamic relative permeability and capillary pressure functions.

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