Effect of confining pressure on diffusion coefficients in clay-rich, low-permeability sedimentary rocks

Xiang, Y.; Al, T.; Mazurek, Martin (2016). Effect of confining pressure on diffusion coefficients in clay-rich, low-permeability sedimentary rocks. Journal of contaminant hydrology, 195, pp. 1-10. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2016.10.004

[img] Text
1-s2.0-S0169772216300924-main.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (919kB) | Request a copy

The effect of confining pressure (CP) on the diffusion of tritiated-water (HTO) and iodide (I−) tracers through Ordovician rocks from the Michigan Basin, southwestern Ontario, Canada, and Opalinus Clay from Schlattingen, Switzerland was investigated in laboratory experiments. Four samples representing different formations and lithologies in the Michigan Basin were studied: Queenston Formation shale, Georgian Bay Formation shale, Cobourg Formation limestone and Cobourg Formation argillaceous limestone. Estimated in situ vertical stresses at the depths from which the sampleswere retrieved range from 12.0 to 17.4 MPa (Michigan Basin) and from21 to 23 MPa (Opalinus Clay). Effective diffusion coefficients (De) were determined in through-diffusion experiments. With HTO tracer, applying CP resulted in decreases in De of 12.5% for the Queenston Formation shale (CPmax=12MPa), 30% for the Georgian Bay Formation shale (15MPa), 34% for the Cobourg Formation limestone (17.4 MPa), 31% for the Cobourg Formation argillaceous limestone (17.4MPa) and 43–46% for the Opalinus Clay (15 MPa). Decreases in De were larger for the I− tracer: 13.8% for the Queenston shale, 42% for the Georgian Bay shale, 50% for the Cobourg Formation limestone, 55% for the Cobourg Formation argillaceous limestone and 63–68% for the Opalinus Clay. The tracer-specific nature of the response is attributed to an increasing influence of anion exclusion as the pore size decreases at higher CP.
Results from the shales (including Opalinus Clay) indicate that the pressure effect on De can be represented by a linear relationship between De and ln(CP),which provides valuable predictive capability. The nonlinearity results in a relatively small change in De at high CP, suggesting that it is not necessary to apply the exact in situ pressure conditions in order to obtain a good estimate of the in situ diffusion coefficient. Most importantly, the CP effect on shale is reversible (±12%) suggesting that, for argillaceous rocks, it is possible to obtain De values that are representative of the in-situ condition by conducting measurements on re-pressurized samples that were obtained with standard drilling practices. This may not be the case for brittle rock samples as the results from limestone
suggest that irreversible damage occurred during the pressure cycling.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Rock-Water Interaction

UniBE Contributor:

Mazurek, Martin


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Martin Mazurek

Date Deposited:

05 Apr 2017 16:26

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:03

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:






Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback