To evaluate compaction as a factor in porosity evolution, a plot of intergranular volume vs. depth was constructed using data from relatively uncemented reservoir sandstones from a variety of depths, ages, and geographic locations. The resulting intergranular-volume-decline curve reveals that sands compact mechanically and intergranular volume declines rapidly, from about 40 to 42% at the surface, to about 28% at 1500 m. Between about 1500 and 2500 m, intergranular volume continues to decline slowly, until the framework stabilizes at around 26% (maximum potential porosity in the absence of cement or matrix). No further significant decrease in intergranular volume is observed to the depth limits of the data set at 6700 m. Comparison of intergranular volume and volume of quartz cement for different formations reveals no obvious balance between intergranular pressure solution (as monitored by intergranular volume) and quartz cementation. This indicates that grain-to-grain pressure solution and quartz cement precipitation do not proceed concomitantly on the thin-section scale. Moreover, grain compaction is limited (to about 26% intergranular volume) in rigid-grain sandstones, which suggests that the occurrence and distribution of deep porosity is a function of the volume of cement available to fill the intergranular pores. Therefore, deep, porous sandstones are relatively uncemented rather than undercompacted.

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