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Lithologic Properties of the Upper Ordovician Utica Formation, Michigan Basin, USA: A Geological Characterization and Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Confinement Potential from Mechanical and Petrophysical Properties


The upper Ordovician Utica Shale is the primary hydrocarbon source rock and the ultimate seal for major hydrocarbon accumulations in Trenton-Black River reservoirs in the Midwest. The Utica and the subjacent Point Pleasant and Collingwood formations in Ohio and Michigan (respectively), are now considered an important unconventional hydrocarbon exploration targets yet there is currently little, publically available geological characterization information on these units in the Michigan basin. Prospective unconventional reservoirs in mudrock formations possess a combination of lithologic properties including elevated total organic carbon (TOC) content and thermal maturity, matrix porosity, and properties conducive to natural and artificial fracturing. Mineralogical composition is related to and typically controls these properties.

The objective of this study is to investigate the geological controls on stratigraphic and lithologic variability in the Utica/Collingwood in the Michigan basin. Twelve conventional cores and hundreds of modern well logs from the Michigan basin were analyzed in order to correlate/calibrate wire-line log signatures with whole rock mineral composition (from X-ray diffraction analysis) and mechanical properties (from core analysis) to identify more brittle, fracture-prone zones. Analysis using scanning electron microscopy with Quantitative Evaluation of Minerals by Scanning Electron Microscope (QEMSCAN) software was employed to image pores and for quantitative analysis of mineralogy, texture, and porosity. Mercury Injection Capillary Pressure tests (MICP) and Triaxial Strength Testing were conducted in order to assess petrophysical and mechanical response. Spatial and stratigraphic distributions of lithological properties were mapped, documenting unconventional reservoir characteristics in the Utica Shale in the Michigan basin