Pore evolution characteristics of Chinese marine shale in the thermal simulation experiment and the enlightenment for gas shale evaluation in South China
Although there are many similarities between the shale of Cambrian Qiongzhusi Formation and Ordovician Wufeng Formation–Silurian Longmaxi Formation in South China, including total organic carbon content (TOC) and thickness, the drilling results of shale gas exploration are very different. One of the reasons is the difference of the nano-pores number developed in organic matter between them. In order to reveal the causes, the black shale of Upper Proterozoic Xiamaling Formation in North China, which is similar to the marine source rock in Sichuan basin, was selected for the thermal simulation experiment, and the pore size and volume of the samples before and after the experiment were acquired by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and nitrogen adsorption isotherm measurement. Through the SEM photographs, we found that the sizes of the organic pores in algae, dispersed organic matter and organic matter associated with clay minerals get bigger with the increasing maturity. The total pore volume, micro-pore volume and meso-pore volume of the shale acquired by nitrogen adsorption isotherm measurement increase with the increasing maturity, too. However, under the overburden pressure, micro-pore volume decreases at high maturity stage, indicating the pores in organic matter might be compressed. It is considered that the pore volume in organic matter of the shale of Qiongzhusi Formation might be compacted under greater confining pressure, which may be the reason why the pore structures of the two sets of marine shale in South China are different.