Micrometer-scale Experimental Characterization of the Lower Huron Shale in the Central Appalachian Basin
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The mechanical properties of shale play an important role in hydraulic fracturing design. Although the popular nanoindentation method can be performed to evaluate some mechanical characteristics of organic matter, it is still difficult to fully characterize mechanical properties of organic components of shale due to their small scale which is usually on the order of micrometers or even nanometers. As a novel material characterization tool, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) has shown great potential to characterize surface properties and pore structures at micrometer- and nanometer-scale and has been applied to investigate the elastic properties of organic components in shale by multiple researchers. Raman and FTIR can detect chemical bands by utilizing molecular vibration information. Because Raman and FTIR measurements are non-destructive, high sensitivity, and short in duration, they have been used extensively to study maturation processes of organic components in coal and shale samples. To some extent, these two methods can be considered as complementary to each other, and more comprehensive understanding about maturation processes of organic components can be achieved by combining these two methods. In this work, mechanical properties and chemical characteristics of four shale samples with different thermal maturities were investigated. Generally, this study had two objectives: (1) Characterize the mechanical properties of shale samples with different maturity levels through the novel AFM method, and (2) Explore the underlying cause for the change in elastic properties of shale samples from a chemical perspective through the complementary Raman and FTIR methods.