Chen Zhao

ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Earth and Environmental Science


Earth and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Qinhong Hu


The successful development of oil and gas from unconventional reservoirs in the United States proves the high petroleum potential that shale rock reserves. Petrophysical studies on shale rocks are an important part of reservoir characterization. Petrophysical studies investigate the basic properties and pore structures of the shale rock, including porosity, density, pore size distribution, specific surface area, wettability, pore connectivity, and permeability, to understand the storage and movement of oil and gas in shale rocks. Multiple experimental approaches were applied onto both outcrop and well-core samples from several U.S. shale plays. A range of complementary methodologies of X-ray diffraction, polarized optical microscopy, mercury intrusion porosimetry, gas physisorption, small-angle X-ray scattering, liquid immersion porosimetry, scanning electronic microscopy, and tracer gas diffusion were designed to measure the basic properties and pore structure of these shale samples. This Ph.D. dissertation is divided into three chapters for three different but coherent projects: 1) The first one is by applying multiple approaches mentioned above on Woodford Shale outcrop samples to study the limitations of each approach and find a good combination for pore structure studies; the fluid-rock interactions and pore structures were also investigated in this project; 2) The second one is by using mercury intrusion porosimetry, gas physisorption, small angle X-ray scattering, scanning electronic microscopy, and spontaneous imbibition to study the effects of sedimentary features and mineralogy on pore structure and fluid-rock interaction of Wolfcamp Shale core samples; and 3) The third is to measure the porosity of granular rock samples by using a modified bulk density method for obtaining size-dependent effective porosity in conjunction with particle density analyses. In summary, this dissertation aims to understand and assess the limitations of laboratory experimental approaches, the effect of mineralogy on pore structure, and fluid-rock interaction on shale.


Woodford shale, Wolfcamp shale, Shale pore structure, Porosity


Earth Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington