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Abstract

Although shale gas systems constitute a new target for commercial hydrocarbon production, only a little attention has been paid to the evolution of these unconventional systems with increasing thermal maturation. This study reports the characterization of samples of the Lower Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) Posidonia Shale from northern Germany at varying levels of thermal maturity. Observations were made using an original combination of focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The paper documents the formation of microfracture-filling bitumen in close assotiation with kerogen residues with increasing maturity. Porosity evolves from mostly submicrometric interparticle pores in immature samples to intramineral and intraorganic pores in overmature (gas mature) samples. This intraorganic nanoporosity has most likely come about by the exsolution of gaseous hydrocarbon and been hydrocarbon wet during the thermal maturation processes. Although FIB-SEM and TEM images are small compared to field size, this study emphasizes the need for nanoscale imaging to better constrain hydrocarbon generation processes in gas shale systems.

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