Abstract

Thermal conductivity and petrographic data are presented for verifying mechanistic models of sandstone thermal conductivity. We measured the thermal conductivity of 83 Wilcox and Frio sandstones from south Texas in the Gulf of Mexico sedimentary basin, and correlated conductivity to petrographic variables. Thermal conductivities of water-saturated sandstones at 20 degrees C (68 degrees F ) and 3 MPa (435 psi) were measured on core plugs using a divided-bar apparatus. Thermal conductivity ranges from 2.06 to 5.73 W/m/K over a porosity range of 2.4 to 29.6%. Because of a higher quartz content, Wilcox sandstones at a given porosity are more conductive than Frio sandstones. A grain-matrix conductivity of 5.9 W/m/K is estimated for Wilcox sandstones; matrix conductivity is adequately described with an arithmetic mixing model. Thermal conductivities of clean (<25% clay) sandstones can be described by a multilinear function of decreasing thermal conductivity with increasing porosity and increasing thermal conductivity with quartz content. For clean, quartzose (>35% of the solids) sandstones, the dependence on quartz content can be dropped and thermal conductivities can be predicted with a linear decrease in conductivity with increasing porosity. These sandstones appear isotropic with respect to thermal conductivity.

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