Induced polarization can be used to estimate surface conductivity by assuming a universal linear relationship between the surface and quadrature conductivities of porous media. However, this assumption has not yet been justified for conditions covering a broad range of fluid conductivities. We have performed complex conductivity measurements on Portland sandstone, an illite- and kaolinite-rich sandstone, at 13 different water salinities (NaCl) over the frequency range of 0.1 Hz to 45 kHz. The conductivity of the pore water σw affected the complex surface conductivity mainly by changing the tortuosity of the conduction paths in the pore network from high to low salinities. As the fluid conductivity decreases, the magnitude of the surface conductivity and quadrature conductivity was observed to decrease. At relatively high salinities (σw<0.01  Sm1), the ratio between the surface conductivity and quadrature conductivity was roughly constant. At low salinities (σw<0.01  Sm1), the ratio decreased slightly with the decrease of the salinity. A Stern layer polarization model was combined with the differential effective medium (DEM) theory to describe this behavior. The tortuosity entering the complex surface conductivity was salinity dependent following the prediction of the DEM theory. At high salinity, it reached the value of the bulk tortuosity of the pore space given by the product of the intrinsic formation factor and the connected porosity. The relaxation time distributions were also obtained at different salinities by inverting the measured spectra using a Warburg decomposition. The mode of the relaxation time probability distribution found a small but clear dependence on the salinity. This salinity dependence can be explained by considering the ions exchange between Stern and diffuse layers during polarization of the former. The pore-size distribution obtained from the distribution of the relaxation time agreed with the pore-size distribution from nuclear magnetic resonance measurements.

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