Fluid pressures in the pore spaces of rocks are critical to several aspects of petroleum exploration and production. However, a general understanding of some basic concepts has been obscured by a lack of consistency in terminology. It is the intent of this paper to clarify the meaning of certain terms so that the many disciplines involved with, and affected by, pore pressures can communicate effectively and clearly.

A most confusing aspect of pressure terminology arises from mixing the terms for pressure and pressure gradients. The word “gradient” is often dropped when referring to pressure increases with depth. Even when the...

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