Robust streamline tracing using inter-cell fluxes in locally refined and unstructured grids Academic Article uri icon


  • We present a comprehensive study of velocity interpolation methods in polygons. These methods are often used as postprocessing procedures for numerical schemes that do not directly calculate the velocity field but only provide cell boundary flux conditions, such as the finite volume schemes. These methods extend the widely used velocity interpolation algorithms, such as the Pollock's algorithm, to more complex geometries such as perpendicular bisection (PEBI) grids, unstructured triangular grids and grids with local refinement. Once the velocity field is interpolated, streamline trajectories and time of flight along the streamlines can be calculated for reservoir simulation, model calibration and waterflood management, for instance. These velocity interpolation methods assume known lower-order or higher-order cell boundary fluxes, which satisfy global mass conservation and normal flux continuity. However, they differ in the interpolation of velocities within the interior of the cells. The interpolating velocity may be locally conservative or nonconservative, continuous or discontinuous, lower order or higher order. Results show that the interpolated velocity field has to be locally conservative in order to guarantee the correct volumetric transformation for the calculated streamlines and the time of flight. Velocity continuity is not as important as local conservation for the purpose of streamline applications. Compared to higher-order interpolation for the streamline trajectories, lower-order interpolation has the advantage of an analytic solution and an efficient implementation. Based on our analysis, we recommend a lower-order locally conservative method for the most robust and numerically efficient calculation of streamline trajectories on unstructured grids. © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y., King, M. J., & Datta-Gupta, A.

citation count

  • 21

publication date

  • June 2012