Abstract

Since the discovery of pores in the organic matter of gas shales, the conventional thought has been that the pores formed as a result of hydrocarbon generation during the thermal maturation of the organic matter. However, thermal maturity alone may not be the only factor in determining the formation and preservation of pores in the organic matter. In this paper we report on a study of organic porosity in Woodford Shale samples with vitrinite reflectances ranging from 0.51% Ro to 6.36% Ro. Using focused ion beam (FIB) milling and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), it is observed that while the first appearance of porosity for the samples occurs by 1.23% Ro, there are anomalies. One anomaly is the complete lack of organic porosity in the 2.00% Ro sample. In addition, some samples with a vitrinite reflectance ≥ 1.23% Ro exhibit regions of porous organic matter adjacent to non-porous organic matter regions that are separated by a few microns Observations show that while some regions of porous organic matter appear protected by grains others appear stress-supporting. These observations have important consequences for using indicators such as thermal maturity in predicting the occurrence of pores in the organic matter of shales.

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