The Utica Shale has proven to be a major unconventional hydrocarbon play. However, due to its relatively high clay content and complex bedding it is often a challenging environment for maximizing resource extraction. Both total and rate of resource extraction from a hydraulically fractured formation such as the Utica Shale is the macroscale outcome of micro and nanoscale processes, which in turn are associated with measurable pore-scale formation characteristics. One notable characteristic is anisotropy of the rock fabric, which includes differences in grain shape, pore geometry, tortuosity, and permeability, as measured parallel and perpendicular to bedding. Anisotropy that occurs in any laminated, clay-rich mudstone impacts orientation-specific strength, induced fracture propagation, and 4D modeling of flow and consequent resource extraction from material accessible through fractures.
The preliminary work described here therefore addresses the following questions: How does Utica Shale anisotropy change as a function of scale, and with facies and texture type – and which mineral assemblages most impact the observations?