Microstructure and mineralogy
As the fastest growing energy sector globally, shale and shale reservoirs have attracted the attention of both industry and scholars. However, the strong heterogeneity at different scales and the extremely fine-grained nature of shales makes macroscopic and microscopic characterization highly challenging. Recent advances in imaging techniques have provided many novel characterization opportunities of shale components and microstructures at multiple scales. Correlative imaging, where multiple techniques are combined, is playing an increasingly important role in the imaging and quantification of shale microstructures (e.g. one can combine optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy/transmission electron microscopy and X-ray radiography in 2D, or X-ray computed tomography and electron microscopy in 3D). Combined utilization of these techniques can characterize the heterogeneity of shale microstructures over a large range of scales, from macroscale to nanoscale (c. 100–10−9 m). Other chemical and physical measurements can be correlated to imaging techniques to provide complementary information for minerals, organic matter and pores. These imaging techniques and subsequent quantification methods are critically reviewed to provide an overview of the correlative imaging workflow. Applications of the above techniques for imaging particular features in different shales are demonstrated, and key limitations and benefits summarized. Current challenges and future perspectives in shale imaging techniques and their applications are discussed.
Figures & Tables
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.