Source-rock reservoirs are fine-grained petroleum source rocks (“shales” or “mudstones”) having geomechanical properties that allow those rocks to produce hydrocarbons at economic rates after stimulation by hydraulic fracturing. Many of the assumptions commonly adopted by geophysicists to characterize shales cannot be applied to source-rock reservoirs. For example, the mineralogies of many source-rock reservoirs are not dominated by clay minerals and so mathematical and/or conceptual models developed for clay-dominated mudstones are not appropriate and cannot be applied to them. Instead, mudstones of shale plays are generally dominated by biogenic calcite and/or quartz. We use terminology of sedimentary geology to show that anisotropy is scale-dependent in source-rock reservoirs, and we discuss the depositional and diagenetic processes that control these and other geophysical properties of interest. The mudstones of source-rock reservoirs may or may not be anisotropic at the lamination scale (i.e., millimeters), the scale commonly used to measure anisotropic parameters via core plugs, but they are nearly always anisotropic at the bedset (centimeters to several meters) and member (tens of meters) scales. Because of the anisotropic nature of mudstones, elastic properties are not scalars at the length/thickness scales that can be defined using seismic methods. Properties of interest are likely to be different parallel to bedding compared to perpendicular to bedding. Because of the subseismic scale of much of this variability, thin-bed effects are likely to influence the AVO behavior of source-rock reservoirs.

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