Frictional properties of shale reservoir rocks



[1] We performed laboratory friction experiments on shale samples from three hydrocarbon reservoirs to assess compositional controls on fault slip behavior accompanying hydraulic stimulation. The samples span a range of clay and total organic content from ~10 to 60% by weight and demonstrate fine-scale heterogeneity within each reservoir. Friction measurements demonstrate strong dependence of strength and rate-state constitutive properties on shale composition. Shale samples with clay and organic content above ~30% by weight show coefficient of friction ~0.4 and consistently velocity-strengthening behavior, while those below this threshold show increased strength and velocity-weakening behavior. This transition in frictional strength and stability suggests a change in the shale grain packing framework from rigid clast supported to clay mineral and organic matter supported. Measurements of gouge dilatancy further support these relationships, showing a negative correlation with clay and organic content. Critical slip evolution distance exhibits similar dependence on composition, implying common micromechanical mechanisms for the observed transition in frictional behavior. We performed microstructural characterization of the experimental samples and observe changes in the gouge load-bearing framework and shear localization features consistent with these mechanical data. While these results can be applied generally to infer slip stability on faults in clay-bearing sedimentary rock, we employ the experimental data to place constraints on microearthquake magnitudes and the occurrence of slow shear slip on preexisting faults during hydraulic stimulation in shale reservoirs.