Viscous Behavior of Clay-Rich Rocks and Its Role in Focused Fluid Flow

Viktoriya M. Yarushina, Roman Y. Makhnenko, Yuri Y. Podladchikov, L. Hongliang Wang, Ludovic Räss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Focused fluid flow is common in sedimentary basins worldwide, where flow structures often penetrate through sandy reservoir rocks, and clay-rich caprocks. To better understand the mechanisms forming such structures, the impacts of the viscoelastic deformation and strongly nonlinear porosity-dependent permeability of clay-rich materials are assessed from an experimental and numerical modeling perspective. The experimental methods to measure the poroviscoelastic and transport properties of intact and remolded shale have been developed, and the experimental data is used to constrain the numerical simulations. It is demonstrated that viscoelastic deformation combined with nonlinear porosity-dependent permeability triggers the development of localized flow channels, often imaged as seismic chimneys. The permeability inside a channel increases by several orders of magnitude compared to the background values. In addition, the propagation time scale and the channel size strongly depend on the material properties of the fluid and the rock. The time-dependent behavior of the clay-rich rock may play a key role in the long-term integrity of the subsurface formations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GC009949
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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