Rock physics provides a crucial link between seismic and reservoir properties, but it requires knowledge of the elastic properties of rock components. Whereas the elastic properties of most rock components are known, the anisotropic elastic properties of clay are not. Scanning electron microscopy studies of clay in shales indicate that individual clay platelets vary in orientation but are aligned locally. We present a simple model of the elastic properties of a region (domain) of locally aligned clay platelets that accounts for the volume fraction, aspect ratio, and elastic-stiffness tensor of clay platelets, as well as the effective elastic properties of the interplatelet medium. Variations in clay anisotropy are quantified by examining the effects of varying model parameters upon the effective transverse-isotropic (TI) elastic-stiffness tensor of a domain. Statistics of these distributions and correlations between stiffnesses and anisotropy parameters enable the most probable sets of stiffnesses to be identified for rock physics calculations. The mean of these distributions is on the order of twice the mode for in-plane stiffnesses (C11, C12, C66), but it is of the same order as the mode for out-of-plane stiffnesses (C13, C33, C55). Despite random sampling, well-defined relations emerge, consistent with similar shale relations reported in the literature. Expressing these relations in terms of C33 for a single domain of aligned clay platelets facilitates their general application. In the limit that the volume fraction approaches unity, the elastic stiffnesses thus derived reproduce those of the clay mineral assumed as platelets. Given the elastic-stiffness tensor of a single domain of aligned clay platelets, the effective TI elastic-stiffness tensor of clay is obtained by integrating over the clay-platelet orientation-distribution function.

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