Permeability and physical properties of fine-grained clastic sediments show a wide range of variations. Despite rather intensive research, the impact of grain size distribution and mineralogical composition of individual rock constituents is not thoroughly investigated. We performed mechanical compaction of brine-statured reconstituted borehole cuttings and synthetic quartz-clay mixtures to study the evolution of properties in fine-grained clastic sediments during burial. The primary objective was to examine whether the hydraulic and physical properties of fine-grained sediments could be described and constrained by binary quartz-clay mixtures. The synthetic binary mixtures were prepared by mixing quartz with non-swelling (kaolinite) and strongly-swelling (smectite) clays, which can represent the endmember properties within the clay minerals. In addition to vertical permeability, physical and seismic properties, stress-dependence of permeability, and two-phase relative permeability of brine-oil system were investigated. Experimental results show that grain size distribution and mineralogical composition control the vertical permeability. A well-constrained porosity-permeability bound is defined, where the compaction trends of pure quartz and quartz-smectite 15:85 (wt %) mixtures describe the maximum and minimum boundaries, respectively. The quartz-clay mixtures, however, fail to provide bounds to constrain the broad range of variations in physical and seismic properties of reconstituted aggregates, and consequently natural mudstones. It is crucial to incorporate microstructure into the permeability prediction models because the experiments indicated that the microscale characteristics control the macroscale fluid flow properties.
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