Pore types, pore size, and pore abundance vary systematically across thermal maturity in the Eagle Ford Formation, Maverick Basin, southern Texas. Scanning electron imaging of 20 samples from four wells is used to assess the complex response of pores to chemical and mechanical processes, entailing both destruction of primary porosity and generation of secondary pores. Primary mineral-associated pores are destroyed by compaction, cementation, and infill of secondary organic matter, whereas secondary pores are generated within organic matter (OM).
Destruction of primary pores during early burial (to ∼0.5%) occurs by compaction of ductile detrital OM and clays and, to a lesser degree, as a result of cementation and infill of secondary OM. Larger pores are associated with coccolith debris. The dominant OM is spatially isolated detrital OM “stringers.” Porosity is volumetrically dominated (average 6.2%) by relatively large, mostly interparticle mineral-associated pores (median size 51.6 nm [0.000002 in.]; detection limit near 3–4 nm [0.00000012–0.00000015 in.]). At low maturity, porosity and pore size correlate directly with calcite abundance and inversely with OM volumes.
At higher maturity, further destruction of primary pores occurs through cementation, secondary OM infill, and greater compaction. Mineral-associated pores are present at high-maturity ( ∼1.2%–1.3%), but are smaller (median size 30.2 nm [0.0000011 in.]) and less abundant (average of 2.5%) than at low maturity. A large portion of OM within high-maturity samples is diagenetic in origin and has pervaded into primary pore space, coating cement crystals, and filling intraparticle pores. Substantial mineral-associated porosity is locally present in samples where incursion of primary pore space by secondary OM has not occurred.
Abundant secondary porosity is generated as OM matures into the wet-gas window. Porosity in most high-maturity samples is volumetrically dominated (average of 1.3%) by smaller, OM-hosted pores (median size 13.2 nm [0.00000051 in.]).