Matrix-related pore networks in mudrocks are composed of nanometer- to micrometer-size pores. In shale-gas systems, these pores, along with natural fractures, form the flow-path (permeability) network that allows flow of gas from the mudrock to induced fractures during production. A pore classification consisting of three major matrix-related pore types is presented that can be used to quantify matrix-related pores and relate them to pore networks. Two pore types are associated with the mineral matrix; the third pore type is associated with organic matter (OM). Fracture pores are not controlled by individual matrix particles and are not part of this classification. Pores associated with mineral particles can be subdivided into interparticle (interP) pores that are found between particles and crystals and intraparticle (intraP) pores that are located within particles. Organic-matter pores are intraP pores located within OM. Interparticle mineral pores have a higher probability of being part of an effective pore network than intraP mineral pores because they are more likely to be interconnected. Although they are intraP, OM pores are also likely to be part of an interconnected network because of the interconnectivity of OM particles.
In unlithifed near-surface muds, pores consist of interP and intraP pores, and as the muds are buried, they compact and lithify. During the compaction process, a large number of interP and intraP pores are destroyed, especially in ductile grain-rich muds. Compaction can decrease the pore volume up to 88% by several kilometers of burial. At the onset of hydrocarbon thermal maturation, OM pores are created in kerogen. At depth, dissolution of chemically unstable particles can create additional moldic intraP pores.