Nanochemo-mechanical signature of organic-rich shales: a coupled indentation-EDX analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016. The organic-inorganic nature of organic-rich source rocks poses several challenges for the development of functional relations that link mechanical properties with geochemical composition. With this focus in mind, we herein propose a method that enables chemo-mechanical characterization of this highly heterogeneous source rock at the micron and submicron length scale through a statistical analysis of a large array of energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) data coupled with nanoindentation data. The ability to include elemental composition to the indentation probe via EDX is shown to provide a means to identify pure material phases, mixture phases, and interfaces between different phases. Employed over a large array, the statistical clustering of this set of chemo-mechanical data provides access to the properties of the fundamental building blocks of clay-dominated organic-rich source rocks. The versatility of the approach is illustrated through the application to a large number of source rocks of different origin, chemical composition, and organic content. We find that the identified properties exhibit a unique scaling relation between stiffness and hardness. This suggests that organic-rich shale properties can be reduced to their elementary constituents, with several implications for the development of predictive functional relations between chemical composition and mechanical properties of organic-rich source rocks such as the intimate interplay between clay-packing, organic maturity, and mechanical properties of porous clay/organic phase.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Abedi, S., Slim, M., Hofmann, R., Bryndzia, T., & Ulm, F.

citation count

  • 70

complete list of authors

  • Abedi, Sara||Slim, Mirna||Hofmann, Ronny||Bryndzia, Taras||Ulm, Franz-Josef

publication date

  • June 2016