Hierarchical integration of porosity in shales

Lin Ma, Thomas J.A. Slater, Patrick Dowey, Sheng Yue, Ernest Rutter, Kevin Taylor, Peter Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Pore characterization in shales is challenging owing to the wide range of pore sizes and types present. Haynesville-Bossier shale (USA) was sampled as a typical clay-bearing siliceous, organic-rich, gas-mature shale and characterized over pore diameters ranging 2 nm to 3000 nm. Three advanced imaging techniques were utilized correlatively, including the application of Xe+ plasma focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (plasma FIB or PFIB), complemented by the Ga+ FIB method which is now frequently used to characterise porosity and organic/inorganic phases, together with transmission electron microscope tomography of the nano-scale pores (voxel size 0.6 nm; resolution 1–2 nm). The three pore-size scales each contribute differently to the pore network. Those <10 nm (greatest number), 10 nm to 100 nm (best-connected hence controls transport properties), and >100 nm (greatest total volume hence determines fluid storativity). Four distinct pore types were found: intra-organic, organic-mineral interface, inter-mineral and intra-mineral pores were recognized, with characteristic geometries. The whole pore network comprises a globally-connected system between phyllosilicate mineral grains (diameter: 6–50 nm), and locally-clustered connected pores within porous organic matter (diameter: 200–800 nm). Integrated predictions of pore geometry, connectivity, and roles in controlling petrophysical properties were verified through experimental permeability measurements.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number11683
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Early online date3 Aug 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2018


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