Using SEM Analysis on Ion-Milled Shale Surface to Determine Shale-Fracturing Fluid Interaction

Friday, 19 December 2014
Jiemin Lu1, Patrick John Mickler2 and Jean-Philippe Nicot1, (1)University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States, (2)University of Texas, Austin, TX, United States
It is important to document and assess shale-fluid interaction during hydraulic fracturing (HF) in order to understand its impact on flowback water chemistry and rock property. A series of autoclave experiments were conducted to react shale samples from major oil and gas shales with synthetic HF containing various additives. To better determine mineral dissolution and precipitation at the rock-fluid interface, ion-milling technique was applied to create extremely flat rock surfaces that were examined before and after the autoclave experiments using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) detectors. This method is able to reveal a level of detail not observable on broken surface or mechanically polished surface. It allows direct comparison of the same mineral and organic matter particles before and after the reaction experiments. Minerals undergone dissolution and newly precipitated materials are readily determined by comparing to the exact locations before reaction. The dissolution porosity and the thickness of precipitates can be quantified by tracing and measuring the geometry of the pores and precipitates. Changes in porosity and permeability were confirmed by mercury intrusion capillary tests.