The effect of systematic diagenetic changes on the mechanical behavior of a quartz-cemented sandstone

Post date: May 5, 2015 7:35:35 PM

Jennie E. Cook, Laurel B. Goodwin, David F. Boutt, and Harold J. Tobin - A key goal of petrophysical studies of sandstones is to relate common field measurements, particularly seismic or sonic velocities, to parameters defining the rock’s mechanical and hydrologic characteristics. These include elastic and inelastic mechanical properties, porosity, and permeability. We explored relationships among these properties in variably quartz-cemented, mature arenites of the St. Peter Sandstone with porosities ranging from 9% to 25%. In a previous paper, we described microstructural changes accompanying progressive quartz cementation and related porosity and permeability reduction in this sample suite. Here, we report ultrasonic velocities ultrasonic velocities, dynamic and static elastic properties, confined compressive strength, and tensile strength. Analyses of these data demonstrated that factors controlling permeability also fundamentally determined the elastic and inelastic mechanical properties. We found that the number of grain contacts, or bonds, per number of grains viewed in the thin section (bond-to-grain ratio [BGR]) was a key predictive parameter of the mechanical and hydrologic properties. Although the contact length and number of contacts correlated well with the mechanical behavior, statistical analyses showed that BGR was a better predictor of strength, elastic stiffness, and fluid transport properties than was the contact length. The BGR provided a measure of the pore throat occlusion that reduced permeability and the connectivity of the grain framework that stiffened and strengthened the rock. Because porosity and BGR were typically well correlated, porosity was a more quickly and easily measured proxy for BGR in this case. However, our analysis showed that it was the microstructural changes associated with porosity loss rather than porosity loss per se that largely controlled the properties of interest. Thus, consideration of BGR as well as the relative strengths of grains and bond type (cement, pressure solution) for different compositions of sandstone and cement may constructively form the basis for comparative studies of other more complex sandstones.

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