Mudrocks (shales, mudstones) at the Scale of Grains and Pores: Current Understanding
Dr. Kitty Milliken, Bureau of Economic Geology
The fine-grained sediments and rocks that constitute most of the sedimentary record have received tremendous research attention in the past decade. This talk reviews some of the technologies that have supported these advances and summarizes current knowledge of the diagenetic processes that drive the evolution of bulk rock properties of mud in the subsurface. Electron microbeam instrumentation has been central to improving our understanding of fine-grained materials. In particular, improvements in resolution offered by field-emission electron guns and advances in sample preparation by various ion-milling techniques have allowed researchers to see tiny grains and pores in unprecedented detail. Grain assemblages in mudrocks vary across a very broad compositional range and the beginning compositions in muds have significant implications for the evolution of properties relevant to reservoir quality in mudrocks. It is now clear that the principal diagenetic processes of sandstones and limestones, compaction and cementation, also operate in mudrocks. Research efforts to quantify the roles of compaction and cementation are central in the quest to refine a predictive understanding of the evolution of mudrock properties in the subsurface.
Kitty L. Milliken received a B.A. in geology (1975) from Vanderbilt University and M.A. (1977) and Ph.D. (1985) degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently she is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology in Jackson School of Geosciences. Her research focuses on the diagenesis of siliciclastic sediments and the evolution of rock properties in the subsurface. She has authored and co-authored around 90 peer-reviewed papers, over 100 abstracts, and also digital resources for teaching sandstone and carbonate petrography. She served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Sedimentary Research (1993-2000) and as Co-Editor (2004-2008). In 2006 she toured as a J. Ben Carsey Distinguished Lecturer for the AAPG; she was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (2008). Her current work is focused on the application of electron microbeam imaging and analysis to interpret chemical and mechanical histories of mudrocks (oil and gas shales).