Evolution of mudstone porosity, permeability, and microstructure in the presence of microorganisms during vertical compression

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Author(s): Mills, Tanner; Reece, Julia S.
Author Affiliation(s): Primary:
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States
Volume Title: AGU 2016 fall meeting
Source: American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Vol.2016; American Geophysical Union 2016 fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 12-16, 2016. Publisher: American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States
Note: In English
Summary: Here we investigate the influence of microbial activity on the mechanical and transport properties of mudstones during early diagenesis. Despite the proven presence of microbial communities in marine sediments to depths of >500 meters below sea floor (mbsf), little is known about the interactions between microorganisms and sediments, especially during the early stages of burial and compression. To characterize and quantify the impact of microbial activity on mudstone properties, we compare natural mudstone samples treated with iron reducing bacteria Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1 and those without bacteria. Two bulk mudstones are experimentally prepared using sediments from Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Sites U1319 and U1324 in the Gulf of Mexico. The sediments originated from 4-13 mbsf in the Brazos-Trinity Basin and from three depth intervals (3-14 mbsf, 23-32 mbsf, and 493-502 mbsf) in the Ursa Basin. The sediments are dried and ground to clay- and silt-sized particles and homogenized into two natural mudstone powders. These powders are then used to make reproducible mudstone samples through a process called resedimentation, which replicates natural deposition and burial. Changes in microstructure, porosity, compressibility, and permeability are measured while the biotic (with bacteria) and abiotic (without bacteria) mudstones are being uniaxially compressed over several weeks to a maximum stress of 100 kPa. We anticipate that biofilm growth in pore spaces will decrease porosity, compressibility, and permeability, and the resultant microstructural changes created by microorganisms will be evident in high-resolution scanning electron microscope (SEM) images. Recognition of the micro-scale processes that take place during the early stages of mudstone diagenesis, especially those mediated by microbial activity, and their long-term effects on mudstone properties can lead to better identification and more effective production of unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs.
Year of Publication: 2016
Research Program: IODP Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
Key Words: 06 Petrology, Sedimentary; Atlantic Ocean; Clastic rocks; Diagenesis; Expedition 308; Gulf of Mexico; IODP Site U1319; IODP Site U1324; Integrated Ocean Drilling Program; Marine sedimentation; Marine sediments; Mudstone; North Atlantic; Sedimentary rocks; Sedimentation; Sediments
Coordinates: N280500 N280500 W0890800 W0890800
N271600 N271600 W0942400 W0942400
Record ID: 2017087220
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