The Elastic Properties of Clay in Shales

posted Aug 5, 2018, 10:50 AM by Colin Sayers   [ updated Aug 5, 2018, 11:00 AM ]

Authors: Colin Sayers and Lennert den Boer 

Abstract: The mechanical properties of clay minerals are important in many diverse scientific disciplines, including soil mechanics, civil engineering, materials science, and petroleum exploration. Rock physics provides a link between the elastic properties of rocks and their constitutive properties such as mineralogic composition, porosity, and pore‐fluid content. To accurately characterize shales, rock physics models must account for the anisotropic properties of clay minerals. Due to more compliant regions between clay particles, the elastic stiffness of clay in shales is significantly less than that of its constituent clay minerals. In this paper, the clay in shales is modeled as anisotropic clay platelets surrounded by a softer interparticle region consisting of clay‐bound water and interparticle contacts. Inverting for the elastic properties of this interparticle region indicates that its effective bulk modulus is like that of water. However, it has a nonzero effective shear modulus that is smaller by an order of magnitude, consistent with the expected shear modulus of clay‐bound water. Owing to its simplicity and robustness, it is anticipated that this model of shales, based on the properties of clay minerals and the interparticle medium, will find use in many rock physics applications, including seismic imaging, seismic inversion, and geomechanics.