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Unconventional Shale Plays from the Clay Perspective

Amanda G. Haddad1 and Lynda B. Williams2
1University Of Southern California
2Arizona State University

As conventional resources become more challenging to discover and develop economically, increasing focus has been placed on unconventional shale plays. Shales consist mostly of clay minerals which have a high propensity to adsorb elements and water and/or take up both into their interlayers. Understanding the mineralogy and geochemistry of clays has implications for oil/water saturation, the interpretation of spectral gamma ray data and the interaction of hydrothermal and/or hydraulic fracturing fluids with reactive clays. This, in turn, has implications for the identification of zones for hydraulic fracturing, interpretations of depositional environments, fluid migration and hydraulic fracturing parameters. I will discuss all of the above using a case study that investigated boron isotope composition as a function of the illitization of smectite. The results highlight the various interactions that clay minerals have with trace elements and water, and their importance in the exploration for and development of unconventional shale plays.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90182©2013 AAPG/SEG Student Expo, Houston, Texas, September 16-17, 2013