Because of the great potential for hydrocarbon generation, the Lower Cambrian Wangyinpu and Guanyintang Formations of the Jiangxi Xiuwu Basin have become the most important targets for shale-gas exploration in the Jiangxi province. We investigate the pore characteristics and main controlling factors of overmature shale using field emission-scanning electron microscopy, image-processing software (i.e., the Particles [Pores] and Crack Analysis System), X-ray diffraction, and gas-adsorption experiments. The results show that the shales have a high abundance of organic matter (OM), over maturity, and highly siliceous mineral content. The kerogen type is identified as type I. OM pores are the most developed, followed by interparticle (interP) pores and intraparticle (intraP) pores. We combine complementary image processing and gas-adsorption methods to reveal that micropores are mainly from OM pores; mesopores are from OM pores and interP pores; and macropores are from OM pores, interP pores, and intraP pores. Although the number of micropores is at a maximum, the total contribution of mesopores and macropores to the pore volume (PV) is larger than that of micropores. However, the specific surface area (SSA) is mainly from the micropores. OM content and maturity are the main controlling factors for the development of pore structures. Because of overmaturity, OM loses its potential for hydrocarbon generation and new pores cannot be produced. Gas loss leads to reservoir pressure drop, and the pores generated during the mature stage collapse and even disappear because they lack support. Therefore, PV, SSA, and porosity decrease when the OM content is more than 10%. When the OM content is less than 10%, most of the OM pores are preserved because they are protected by the skeleton particles.

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