Organic-rich shales (ORS) need to be studied in detail to understand the provenance and the generation of oil from source rocks. In recent years, ORS have become interesting as important hydrocarbon resources as well. Successful exploration and production programs for ORS need reliable identification of the kerogen content and the maturity through indirect seismic methods. However, the seismic properties of kerogen are poorly understood and so, predictions about maturity and rock-kerogen systems remain a challenge. Assessment of maturity from indirect measurements can be greatly enhanced by establishing and exploiting correlations between physical properties, microstructure, and kerogen content.

In this paper we show correlations between the impedance microstructure of ORS and their maturity and elastic properties. We have used scanning acoustic microscopy to analyze and map the impedance microstructure in ORS. We quantified textural properties in the images and related these textural properties to maturity and to impedance from acoustic wave propagation measured at centimeter scales. This combined study of acoustic and microstructures of ORS give important insight in changes due to kerogen maturation. We introduce a modified porosity term and find that (i) there is a significant correlation between velocity and modified porosity of all ORS; (ii) Imaging and quantifying microscale impedance texture and contrast in the images allows us to correlate them with ultrasonic measurements on a cm-scale; and (iii) textural heterogeneity, elastic impedance, velocity, and density increase with increasing shale maturity.

In this paper, we show typical acoustic images of ORS and discuss possible methods to predict maturity from impedance based on understanding the changes due to maturity in well log response, core measurements, and microstructure of organic-rich shales. Our work has important bearing on developing successful production and stimulation methodologies.

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