Articles | Volume 7, issue 4
Research article
22 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 22 Jul 2016

Porosity and permeability determination of organic-rich Posidonia shales based on 3-D analyses by FIB-SEM microscopy

Georg H. Grathoff, Markus Peltz, Frieder Enzmann, and Stephan Kaufhold

Abstract. The goal of this study is to better understand the porosity and permeability in shales to improve modelling fluid and gas flow related to shale diagenesis. Two samples (WIC and HAD) were investigated, both mid-Jurassic organic-rich Posidonia shales from Hils area, central Germany of different maturity (WIC R0 0.53 % and HAD R0 1.45 %). The method for image collection was focused ion beam (FIB) microscopy coupled with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). For image and data analysis Avizo and GeoDict was used. Porosity was calculated from segmented 3-D FIB based images and permeability was simulated by a Navier Stokes–Brinkman solver in the segmented images.

Results show that the quantity and distribution of pore clusters and pores (≥  40 nm) are similar. The largest pores are located within carbonates and clay minerals, whereas the smallest pores are within the matured organic matter. Orientation of the pores calculated as pore paths showed minor directional differences between the samples. Both samples have no continuous connectivity of pore clusters along the axes in the x, y, and z direction on the scale of 10 to 20 of micrometer, but do show connectivity on the micrometer scale. The volume of organic matter in the studied volume is representative of the total organic carbon (TOC) in the samples. Organic matter does show axis connectivity in the x, y, and z directions. With increasing maturity the porosity in organic matter increases from close to 0 to more than 5 %. These pores are small and in the large organic particles have little connection to the mineral matrix. Continuous pore size distributions are compared with mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) data. Differences between both methods are caused by resolution limits of the FIB-SEM and by the development of small pores during the maturation of the organic matter. Calculations show no permeability when only considering visible pores due to the lack of axis connectivity. Adding the organic matter with a background permeability of 1 × 10−21 m2 to the calculations, the total permeability increased by up to 1 order of magnitude for the low mature and decreases slightly for the overmature sample from the gas window. Anisotropy of permeability was observed. Permeability coefficients increase by 1 order of magnitude if simulations are performed parallel to the bedding. Our results compare well with experimental data from the literature suggesting that upscaling may be possible in the future as soon as maturity dependent organic matter permeability coefficients can be determined.

Short summary
This study improves our understanding of the evolution of pores in shales for modelling transport properties. 3-D microscopy on early and postmature Posidonia Shales showed similar porosities and pore size distributions. Large isolated pore clusters are within carbonates and clay minerals. Pores form during maturation in the postmature-matrix-filling organic matter. Modelled permeabilities are lowest perpendicular to bedding. They decrease with increasing maturity and are comparable to experimental data.