Clay Mineral Preferred Orientation

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Ruarri James Day-Stirrat, Shell Houston, Houston, TX, United States
Anisotropy of the orientation of clay minerals, often referred to as texture, may be unique to sediments’ deposition, composition, deformation or diagenetic history. The literature is rich with studies that include preferred orientation generation in fault gouge, low-grade metamorphic rocks, sediments with variable clay content and during the smectite-to-illite transformation. Untangling the interplay between many competing factors in any one geologic situation has proven a significant challenge over many years. Understanding how, where and when clay minerals develop a preferred orientation has significant implications for permeability anisotropy in shallow burial, the way mechanical properties are projected from shallower to deeper settings in basin modeling packages and the way velocity anisotropy is accounted for in seismic data processing. The assessment of the anisotropic properties of fine-grained siliciclastic rocks is gaining significant momentum in rock physics research. Therefore, a fundamental understanding of how clay minerals develop a preferred orientation in space and time is crucial to the understanding of anisotropy of physical properties. The current study brings together a wealth of data that may be used in a predictive sense to account for fabric anisotropy that may impact any number of rock properties.