Water retention effects on elastic properties of Opalinus shale
A. Yurikov, M. Lebedev, M. Pervukhina and B. Gurevich
Journal name: Geophysical Prospecting
Issue: Vol 67, No 4, May 2019 pp. 984 - 996
Info: Article, PDF ( 5.91Mb )
Shales play an important role in many engineering applications such as nuclear waste, CO2 storage and oil or gas production. Shales are often utilized as an impermeable seal or an unconventional reservoir. For both situations, shales are often studied using seismic waves. Elastic properties of shales strongly depend on their hydration, which can lead to substantial structural changes. Thus, in order to explore shaly formations with seismic methods, it is necessary to understand the dependency of shale elastic properties on variations in hydration. In this work, we investigate structural changes in Opalinus shale at different hydration states using laboratory measurements and X-ray micro-computed tomography. We show that the shale swells with hydration and shrinks with drying with no visible damage. The pore space of the shale deforms, exhibiting a reduction in the total porosity with drying and an increase in the total porosity with hydration. We study the elastic properties of the shale at different hydration states using ultrasonic velocities measurements. The elastic moduli of the shale show substantial changes with variations in hydration, which cannot be explained with a single driving mechanism. We suggest that changes of the elastic moduli with variations in hydration are driven by multiple competing factors: (1) variations in total porosity, (2) substitution of pore-filling fluid, (3) change in stiffness of contacts between clay particles and (4) chemical hardening/softening of clay particles. We qualitatively and quantitatively analyse and discuss the influence of each of these factors on the elastic moduli. We conclude that depending on the microstructure and composition of a particular shale, some of the factors dominate over the others, resulting in different dependencies of the elastic moduli on hydration.