The Ordovician Wufeng Formation and Silurian Longmaxi Formation are two of the most organic-rich and gas-prospective shale formations in the central Yangtze area, China. In this study, we investigate the controls exerted by shale composition and pore structure on methane sorption of these highly matured marine shales (Ro ranges from 2.0% to 4.0%). Samples were analyzed by SEM pore imaging of Ar-ion milled samples, high pressure methane adsorption, and low temperature nitrogen adsorption. In the high TOC Wufeng and lower Longmaxi formations, numerous organic matter pores are present. A positive correlation exists between TOC, BET surface area, and CH4 sorption capacity, indicating that porosity associated with organic matter is the key factor controlling methane sorption capacity of shale samples. In the organic-lean upper Longmaxi Formation, pores within clay particles and carbonate minerals are the major pore types. Organic-lean shale samples from the upper Longmaxi Formation have higher clay content, lower BET surface area, and lower adsorption capacity than organic-rich shales. Within several low TOC samples, a relatively strong correlation exists between illite content and methane sorption capacity, which is interpreted to result from clay mineral-hosted porosity.

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