Fluid flow from matrix to fractures in Early Jurassic shales

M. E. Houben, N. J. Hardebol, A. Barnhoorn, Q. D. Boersma, A. Carone, Y. Liu, D. A.M. de Winter, C. J. Peach, M. R. Drury

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The potential of shale reservoirs for gas extraction is largely determined by the permeability of the rock. Typical pore diameters in shales range from the μm down to the nm scale. The permeability of shale reservoirs is a function of the interconnectivity between the pore space and the natural fracture network present. We have measured the permeability of the Whitby Mudstone, the exposed counterpart of the Posidonia Shales buried in the Dutch subsurface and a possible target for unconventional gas, using different methods and established a correlation with the microstructures and pore networks present down to the nanometer scale. Whitby Mudstone is a clay rich rock with a low porosity. The permeability of the Whitby Mudstone is in the range of 10−18m2–10−21m2. 2D microstructures of the Whitby Mudstone show no connected pore networks, but isolated pore bodies mainly situated in the clay matrix, whereas 3D data shows that connected pore networks are present in less compacted parts of the rock. A closely spaced interconnected fracture network is often required to speed up transport of fluids from the matrix into a producing well. For fluids within the matrix the nearest natural fracture is on average at a distance of approximately 10cm in the Whitby Mudstone. The combination of the permeability data and the porosity data with natural fracture spacing of the fractures present in outcrops along the Yorkshire coast (UK) resulted in new insights into possible fluid pathways from reservoir to well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-39
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Fracture network
  • Jurassic shales
  • Multi-scale flow
  • Permeability
  • Whitby Mudstone

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