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Influence of microporosity distribution on the mechanical behavior of oolithic carbonate rocks

Regnet, J.B., David, C., Fortin, J., Robion, P., Makhloufi, Y., Collin, P.Y.
Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment 2015 v.3 pp. 11-23
acoustics, aquifers, basins, carbon dioxide, carbon sequestration, carbonate rocks, carbonates, cement, energy, equations, geothermal energy, models, permeability, porosity, porous media, strength (mechanics), temperature
The mechanical behavior of oolithic carbonate rocks was investigated for selected rocks with two different microstructural attributes: uniform (UP) and rimmed (RP) distribution of microporosity within ooids. These oolithic carbonate rocks are from the Oolithe Blanche formation, a deep saline aquifer in the Paris Basin, and a possible target for CO2 sequestration and geothermal production. Samples of similar physical properties (porosity, grain diameter, cement content) but different microporosity textures were deformed under triaxial configuration, in water saturated conditions, at 28 MPa of confining pressure, 5 MPa of pore pressure and at a temperature of 55 °C. During the experiments, acoustic velocities were monitored, and permeability was measured. The results show that the mechanical behavior of these microporous carbonates are strongly controlled by the microporosity distribution within the grains, at the origin of variations in elastic properties, mechanical strength and failure mode. The lower velocities measured in UP samples indicate a larger compliance of the whole structure. The mechanical response indicates that UP samples are characterized by a ductile behavior whereas RP samples display a brittle behavior. Using a conceptual model for the failure envelope of both rocks, our observations can be accounted for if one considers a significant variation of the critical pressure P∗, with UP samples having a lower P∗ than RP samples. The permeability evolution under stress was interpreted using a revised Kozeny–Carman equation, showing that fluid flow is strongly affected by the tortuosity of the pore space, which is controlled by the microporosity distribution within the ooids. This study brings new insight into the parameters controlling the physical and mechanical response of oolithic carbonates, and the possible impact on production of geothermal energy at depth or storativity for CO2 sequestration operations.