How permeable are clays and shales?

Water Resources Research



The permeability of argillaceous formations, although rarely measured and poorly understood, is commonly a critical parameter in analyses of subsurface flow. Data now available suggest a regular relation between permeability and porosity in clays and shales and permeabilities that, even at large scales, are significantly lower than usually assumed. Permeabilities between 10−23and 10−17 m2 have been obtained at porosities between 0.1 and 0.4 in both laboratory and regional studies. Although it is clear that transmissive fractures or other heterogeneities control the large-scale hydraulic behavior of certain argillaceous units, the permeability of many others is apparently scale independent. These results have significant implications for understanding fluid transport rates and abnormal pressure generation in basins, and could prove important for waste isolation efforts.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title How permeable are clays and shales?
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/93WR02930
Volume 30
Issue 2
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description 6 p.
First page 145
Last page 150
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