Coupled geochemical-geomechanical alterations in shale fracture systems

A. H. Menefee, L. P. Frash, W. Hicks, J. W. Carey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Shales are typified by low permeability, where geochemically-induced permeability alterations to shales serving as energy sources or waste repositories can hinder or shut down operations. In this work, we explored the influence of key physical and chemical controls (temperature, fracture geometry, fluid saturation) on barite precipitation in shale under representative subsurface conditions, as well as the effects of induced barite precipitation on fracture permeability. A series of triaxial direct shear experiments was designed to promote barite precipitation in fractured shale cores, where continuous x-ray radiography and periodic x-ray computed tomography was applied to monitor the onset and development of barite precipitation resulting from mixing of incompatible fluids. The results confirm that precipitation becomes more favorable at increasing temperatures and barite saturation indices, and particularly with elevated [Ba2+] relative to [SO42-]. No significant permeability reductions were observed, due primarily to the fact that precipitates preferentially filled offshoot fractures and coated fracture walls, leaving primary flow paths uninhibited. The results have direct implications for minimizing and preventing barite scaling in shale oil and gas reservoirs, as well as important implications for predicting fluid transport in tight subsurface systems that are susceptible to geochemical alterations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium
PublisherAmerican Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA)
ISBN (Electronic)9780979497575
StatePublished - 2022
Event56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium - Santa Fe, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

Publication series

Name56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium


Conference56th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Fe

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics

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