A deep learning perspective on predicting permeability in porous media from network modeling to direct simulation

Moussa Tembely, Ali M. AlSumaiti, Waleed Alameri

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    34 Scopus citations


    Predicting the petrophysical properties of rock samples using micro-CT images has gained significant attention recently. However, an accurate and an efficient numerical tool is still lacking. After investigating three numerical techniques, (i) pore network modeling (PNM), (ii) the finite volume method (FVM), and (iii) the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM), a workflow based on machine learning is established for fast and accurate prediction of permeability directly from 3D micro-CT images. We use more than 1100 samples scanned at high resolution and extract the relevant features from these samples for use in a supervised learning algorithm. The approach takes advantage of the efficient computation provided by PNM and the accuracy of the LBM to quickly and accurately estimate rock permeability. The relevant features derived from PNM and image analysis are fed into a supervised machine learning model and a deep neural network to compute the permeability in an end-to-end regression scheme. Within a supervised learning framework, machine and deep learning algorithms based on linear regression, gradient boosting, and physics-informed convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are applied to predict the petrophysical properties of porous rock from 3D micro-CT images. We have performed the sensitivity analysis on the feature importance, hyperparameters, and different learning algorithms to make a prediction. Values of R2 scores up to 88% and 91% are achieved using machine learning regression models and the deep learning approach, respectively. Remarkably, a significant gain in computation time—approximately 3 orders of magnitude—is achieved by applied machine learning compared with the LBM. Finally, the study highlights the critical role played by feature engineering in predicting petrophysical properties using deep learning.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)1541-1556
    Number of pages16
    JournalComputational Geosciences
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020


    • Deep learning
    • Digital rock physics
    • Finite volume method
    • Lattice Boltzmann method
    • Machine learning
    • Pore network modeling
    • Porous media
    • Tensor flow


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