Density and visco-elasticity of Natrosol 250HH solutions: determining their suitability for experimental tectonics

David Boutelier, Sandy Cruden, Benoit Saumur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Analogue models often require that materials with specific physical properties be engineered to satisfy scaling conditions. To achieve this goal we investigate the rheology of aqueous solutions of Natrosol 250HH, a rheology modifier employed in various industries to thicken viscous solutions. We report the rheological properties as functions of the concentration and temperature and discuss the advantages and limitations of these materials in view of their use in analogue modelling experiments. The solutions are linear visco-elastic for low stresses (or strain-rates), becoming shear-thinning for larger stresses. For the typically slow analogue experiments of tectonics, the solutions can be considered linear visco-elastic with a Maxwell relaxation time much smaller than the characteristic observation time. This simplification is even more appropriate when the solutions are employed at temperatures higher than 200C,since the solutions then display a behaviour that is more viscous, less elastic at the same shear-rate,while the Newtonian viscosity reduces and the shear-rate limit between Newtonian and shear thinning behaviours increases. The Newtonian viscosity is shown to increase non-linearly with concentration and decrease non-linearly with temperature. With concentrations between 0 and 3% and temperature between 20 and 400C, the viscosity varied between 10-1 and 4000 Pa s, while the density remained close to the density of water. Natrosol 250 HH thus offers the possibility to control the viscosity of a solution without significantly affecting the density, thereby facilitating the design and setup of analogue experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-165
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Analogue modelling
  • Viscosity
  • Elasticity
  • Density

Cite this