The material properties of sedimentary rocks are controlled by a range of parameters, including grain size, sorting, and modification of the original sediment through the diagenetic processes of compaction and cementation. To isolate the effects of diagenesis and explore how they modify permeability, we quantified changes in grain and pore morphology accompanying progressive diagenesis of a simple system: a well-sorted, variably quartz-cemented quartz arenite of relatively uniform grain size. The most common type of authigenic cement in sandstones, quartz overgrowths, is responsible for significant porosity and permeability reduction. The distribution of overgrowths is controlled by available pore space and the crystallographic orientations of individual quartz grains.
We show that progressive quartz cementation modifies the grain framework in consistent, predictable ways. Detailed microstructural characterization and multiple regression analyses demonstrate that both the number and length of grain contacts increase as the number of pores increases and the number of large well-connected pores decreases with progressive diagenesis. The aforementioned changes progressively alter pore shape and reduce pore-size variability and bulk permeability. These systematic variations in the pore network correlate with changes in permeability, such that we can use our data to calibrate the Kozeny-Carmen relation, demonstrating that it is possible to refine predictions of permeability based on knowledge of the sedimentary system.