Natural and laboratory compaction bands in porous carbonates: a three-dimensional characterization using synchrotron X-ray computed microtomography

Monday, 15 December 2014
Fabio Arzilli1, Antonino Cilona2, Lucia Mancini1 and Emanuele Tondi3, (1)Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste, Trieste, Italy, (2)Stanford Earth Sciences, Stanford, CA, United States, (3)University of Camerino, Camerino, Italy
Porous carbonates form important reservoirs for water and hydrocarbons. The fluid flow properties of carbonate reservoirs may be affected by post-depositional processes (e.g., mechanical and chemical), which need to be quantified. Field-based studies described bed-parallel compaction bands (CBs) within carbonates with a wide range of porosities. These burial-related structures accommodate volumetric strain by grain rotation, translation, pore collapse and pressure solution. Recently, the same structures have been reproduced for the first time in the laboratory by performing triaxial compaction experiments on porous grainstones. These laboratory studies characterized and compared the microstructures of natural and laboratory CBs, but no analysis of pore connectivity has been performed.

In this paper, we use an innovative approach to characterize the pore networks (e.g. porosity, connectivity) of natural and laboratory CBs and compare them with the host rock one.

We collected the data using the synchrotron X-ray computed microtomography technique at the SYRMEP beamline of the Elettra-Sincrotrone Trieste Laboratory (Italy). Quantitative analyses of the samples were performed with the Pore3D software library. The porosity was calculated from segmented 3D images of pristine and deformed carbonates. A process of skeletonization was then applied to quantify the number of connected pores within the rock volume. The analysis of the skeleton allowed us to highlight the differences between natural and laboratory CBs, and to investigate how pore connectivity evolves as a function of different deformation pathways.

Both pore volume and connectivity are reduced within the CBs respect to the pristine rock and the natural CB has a lower porosity with respect to the laboratory one. The grain contacts in the natural CB are welded, whereas in the laboratory one they have more irregular shapes and grain crushing is the predominant process.