Determining the porosity of mudrocks using methodological pluralism
Andreas Busch, Kevin Schweinar, Niko Kampman, Ab Coorn, Vitaliy Pipich, Artem Feoktystov, Leon Leu, Alexandra Amann-Hildenbrand, Pieter Bertier, 2017. "Determining the porosity of mudrocks using methodological pluralism", Geomechanical and Petrophysical Properties of Mudrocks, E. H. Rutter, J. Mecklenburgh, K. Taylor
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Porosity of shales is an important parameter that impacts rock strength for seal or wellbore integrity, gas-in-place calculations for unconventional resources or the diffusional solute and gas transport in these microporous materials. From a well section obtained from the Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory in St Ursanne, Switzerland, we determined porosity, pore size distribution and specific surface areas on a set of 13 Opalinus Clay samples. The porosity methods employed are helium-pycnometry, water and mercury injection porosimetry, liquid saturation and immersion, and low pressure N2 sorption, as well as small-angle to ultra-small-angle neutron scattering (SANS–USANS). These were used in addition to mineralogical and geochemical methods for sample analysis that comprise X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, total organic carbon content and cation exchange capacity. We find large variations in total porosity, ranging from approximately 23% for the neutron-scattering method to approximately 10% for mercury injection porosimetry. These differences can partly be related to differences in pore accessibility, while no or negligible inaccessible porosity was found. Pore volume distributions between neutron scattering and low-pressure sorption compare very well but differ significantly from those obtained from mercury porosimetry: this is realistic since the latter provides information on pore throats only, and the two former methods on pore throats and pore bodies. Finally, we find that specific surface areas determined using low-pressure sorption and neutron scattering match well.
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A surge of interest in the geomechanical and petrophysical properties of mudrocks (shales) has taken place in recent years following the development of a shale gas industry in the United States and elsewhere, and with the prospect of similar developments in the UK. Also, these rocks are of particular importance in excavation and construction geotechnics and other rock engineering applications, such as underground natural gas storage, carbon dioxide disposal and radioactive waste storage. They may greatly influence the stability of natural and engineered slopes. Mudrocks, which make up almost three-quarters of all the sedimentary rocks on Earth, therefore impact on many areas of applied geoscience.
This volume focuses on the mechanical behaviour and various physical properties of mudrocks. The 15 chapters are grouped into three themes: (i) physical properties such as porosity, permeability, fluid flow through cracks, strength and geotechnical behaviour; (ii) mineralogy and microstructure, which control geomechanical behaviour; and (iii) fracture, both in laboratory studies and in the field.