Pore structure and fractal characteristics of organic-rich shales: A case study of the lower Silurian Longmaxi shales in the Sichuan Basin, SW China
Shales from the Lower Silurian Longmaxi Formation in the Sichuan Basin are among the most important shale gas reservoirs in China, and have been investigated because of their great shale gas potential. To understand the pore structure and fractal characteristics of the shales, a series of experiments was conducted on core samples from the Lower Silurian Longmaxi Formation in the Sichuan Basin of China, including X-ray diffraction (XRD), total organic carbon (TOC) content and vitrinite reflectance (Ro) analysis, field emission-environmental scanning electron microscope (FE-ESEM) observation, and low-pressure N 2 adsorption-desorption experiments. Frenkel-Halsey-Hill (FHH) method was applied to calculate fractal dimensions. In addition, the pore genesis, the relationships between composition and thermal maturity, the pore structure parameters, and the fractal dimensions are discussed. FE-ESEM observation results show that the Longmaxi Formation shales are dominated by organic-matter (OM) pores along with interparticle (interP) pores, intraparticle (intraP) pores and fracture pores. This study identified the fractal dimensions at relative pressures of 0-0.45 and 0.45-1 as D 1 and D 2 respectively. D 1 ranged from 2.60 to 2.71 and D 2 ranged from 2.71 to 2.82. D 1 was typically smaller than D 2 , indicating that the smaller pores in shales were more homogeneous than the larger ones. The formation of these OM pores is owing to kerogen deformation during the thermal maturation, which results in a large number of nanopores. The pore structure of the Longmaxi Formation shales is primarily controlled by TOC content and thermal maturity. TOC content is a controlling factor on the fractal dimensions as it exhibited positive correlations with D 1 and D 2 . Fractal dimensions are useful for the characterization of the pore structures complexity of the Longmaxi Formation shales because D 1 and D 2 correlate well with pore structure parameters as they both increase with the increase of surface area and the decrease of average pore diameter.
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