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Publication Detail
Quantifying the anisotropy and tortuosity of permeable pathways in clay-rich mudstones using models based on X-ray tomography.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
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  • Authors:
    Backeberg NR, Iacoviello F, Rittner M, Mitchell TM, Jones AP, Day R, Wheeler J, Shearing PR, Vermeesch P, Striolo A
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    Scientific reports
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  • Addresses:
    University College London, Department of Earth Sciences, London, WC1E 6BT, UK. nils.backeberg@gmail.com.
The permeability of shales is important, because it controls where oil and gas resources can migrate to and where in the Earth hydrocarbons are ultimately stored. Shales have a well-known anisotropic directional permeability that is inherited from the depositional layering of sedimentary laminations, where the highest permeability is measured parallel to laminations and the lowest permeability is perpendicular to laminations. We combine state of the art laboratory permeability experiments with high-resolution X-ray computed tomography and for the first time can quantify the three-dimensional interconnected pathways through a rock that define the anisotropic behaviour of shales. Experiments record a physical anisotropy in permeability of one to two orders of magnitude. Two- and three-dimensional analyses of micro- and nano-scale X-ray computed tomography illuminate the interconnected pathways through the porous/permeable phases in shales. The tortuosity factor quantifies the apparent decrease in diffusive transport resulting from convolutions of the flow paths through porous media and predicts that the directional anisotropy is fundamentally controlled by the bulk rock mineral geometry. Understanding the mineral-scale control on permeability will allow for better estimations of the extent of recoverable reserves in shale gas plays globally.
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