Mechanical compaction of sand/clay mixtures



[1] Compaction of siliciclastic sediments is of interest for the study of numerous transport processes occurring in sedimentary basins. Mechanical compaction of sand/clay mixtures depends on the clay content, the effective stress history, and both the mechanical compaction coefficients and the depositional porosities of the two end-members (clean sand and pure shale). The porosity/depth profiles of siliciclastic sediments result from the superposition of two kinds of spatial variations. The first component corresponds to compaction of the mixture with depth of burial. The second component corresponds to small-scale variations of the clay content during deposition and clay infiltration processes. The porosity/depth data are bounded by a minimum porosity/depth envelope corresponding to clay content at the limit between the shaly sand domain and the sandy shale domain. There are two possible upper bounds corresponding to small or large clay contents. The porosity of the clean sand end-member decreases with the depth of burial until a critical porosity of 0.25–0.40 is reached. This critical porosity corresponds to the porosity of random assemblages of more or less spherical grains and depends on the grain-size distribution of the sand grain assemblage. The critical porosity of the shale end-member is much smaller because of the high aspect ratio of the clay particles. The model developed here is applied to downhole measurements made in a borehole that penetrates 3 km of Mio-Pleistocene shaly sand series. The compaction model agrees well with the observed compaction profile.