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Evolution of porosity and pore typein organic-rich, calcareous, Lower Toarcian Posidonia Shale

Lookup NU author(s): Eliza Mathia, Emeritus Professor Mark ThomasORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Low and high resolution petrographic studies have been combined with mineralogical, TOC, RockEval and porosity data to investigate controls on the evolution of porosity in stratigraphically equivalent immature, oil-window and gas-window samples from the Lower Toarcian Posidonia Shale formation. A series of 26 samples from three boreholes (Wickensen Harderode and Haddessen) in the Hils syncline was investigated. The main primary components of the shales are microfossiferous calcite (30-50%), clay minerals (20-30%) and Type II organic matter (TOC = 7-15%, HI = 630-720 mg/gC in immature samples). Characteristic sub-centimetric light and dark lamination reflects rapid changes in the relative supply of these components. Total porosities decrease from 10-14% at Ro = 0.5% to 3-5% at Ro = 0.9% and then increase to 9-12% at Ro = 1.45%. These maturity-related porosity changes can be explained by (a) the primary composition of the shales, (b) carbonate diagenesis, (c) compaction and (d) the maturation, micro-migration, local trapping and gasification of heterogeneous organic phases. Calcite undergoes dissolution and reprecipitation reactions throughout the maturation sequence. Pores quantifiable in SEM (> ca. 50 nm) account for 14-25% of total porosity. At Ro = 0.5%, SEM-visible macropores1 are associated mainly with biogenic calcite. At this maturity, clays and organic matter are not visibly porous but nevertheless hold most of the shale porosity. Porosity loss into the oil window reflects (a) compaction, (b) carbonate cementation and (c) perhaps the swelling of kerogen by retained oil. In addition, porosity is occluded by a range of bituminous phases, especially in microfossil macropores and microfractures. In the gas window, mineral-hosted porosity is still the primary form of macroporosity, most commonly observed at the organic-inorganic interface. Increasing porosity into the gas window also coincides with the formation of isolated, spongy and complex meso- and macropores within organic particles, related to thermal cracking and gas generation. This intraorganic porosity is highly heterogeneous: point-counted macroporosity of individual organic particles ranges from 0 - 40%, with 65% of organic particles containing no macropores. We suggest that this reflects the physicochemical heterogeneity of the organic phases plus the variable mechanical protection afforded by the mineral matrix to allow macroporosity to be retained. The development of organic macroporosity cannot alone account for the porosity increase observed from oil to gas window; major contributions also come from the increased volume of organic micro- and meso-porosity, and perhaps by kerogen shrinkage.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mathia EJ, Bowen L, Thomas KM, Aplin AC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine and Petroleum Geology

Year: 2016

Volume: 75

Pages: 117-139

Print publication date: 01/08/2016

Online publication date: 13/04/2016

Acceptance date: 12/04/2016

Date deposited: 14/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0264-8172

ISSN (electronic): 1873-4073

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2016.04.009



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