Nanomechanics of organic-rich shales: the role of thermal maturity and organic matter content on texture Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Despite the importance of organic-rich shales, microstructural characterization and theoretical modeling of these rocks are limited due to their highly heterogeneous microstructure, complex chemistry, and multiscale mechanical properties. One of the sources of complexity in organic-rich shales is the intricate interplay between microtextural evolution and kerogen maturity. In this study, a suite of experimental and theoretical microporomechanics methods are developed to associate the mechanical properties of organic-rich shales both to their maturity level and to the organic content at micrometer and sub-micrometer length scales. Recent results from chemomechanical characterization experiments involving grid nanoindentation and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) are used in new micromechanical models to isolate the effects of maturity levels and organic content from the inorganic solids. These models enable attribution of the role of organic maturity to the texture of the indented material, with immature systems exhibiting a matrix-inclusion morphology, while mature systems exhibit a polycrystal morphology. Application of these models to the interpretation of nanoindentation results on organic-rich shales allows us to identify unique clay mechanical properties that are consistent with molecular simulation results for illite and independent of the maturity of shale formation and total organic content. The results of this investigation contribute to the design of a multiscale model of the fundamental building blocks of organic-rich shales, which can be used for the design and validation of multiscale predictive poromechanics models.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Abedi, S., Slim, M., & Ulm, F.

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Abedi, Sara||Slim, Mirna||Ulm, Franz-Josef

publication date

  • August 2016