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Mechanical properties of North Sea Tertiary mudrocks: investigations by triaxial testing of side-wall cores

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In the North Sea Tertiary section, wellbore instability problems are frequently reported in Palaeocene-Early Oligocene smectite-rich mudrocks. Analysis of the mechanical properties of these Tertiary mudrocks is generally hampered by the lack of suitable core material. This study represents an attempt to study the geomechanical behaviour of mudrocks by triaxial tests of side-wall cores obtained from the borehole wall. The tests performed include measuring the changes in pore pressure during shearing and undrained shear strength in specimens initially consolidated to in situ effective stress levels. The coefficients of permeability (kf), estimated from the consolidation time behaviour range from 2.6 x 10-11 to 2.4 x 10-12 m/s. The tested cores behaved like slightly overconsolidated to normally consolidated materials with an initial near constant volume (elastic behaviour) for low deviatoric load followed by an increasingly contractant behaviour approaching failure. Compared with results from onshore analogues, the strength properties of the investigated mudrocks appear to be related to their content of expandable clay minerals. A wellbore stability chart to forecast adequate drilling fluid pressures for future wells has been developed by the use of linear (Mohr-Coulomb) failure criteria based on the peak strength data. It is demonstrated that side-wall cores can provide satisfactory test materials for rock mechanical analysis, and their use may serve to improve our knowledge of the rock mechanical behaviour of typically troublesome mudrocks for which no conventional cores are available.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047, Blindern, N-0316 Oslo 2: Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, P.O. Box 3930 Ullev˚al Hageby, N-0806 Oslo 3: Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), N-7034 Trondheim, Norway

Publication date: March 1, 1998

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