Assessment of inherent heterogeneity effect on continuous mechanical properties of shale via uniaxial compression and scratch test methods

Oladoyin Kolawole, Felix Oppong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Shale reservoirs have been a significant focus of hydrocarbon production over the past few decades, and the mechanical assessment of target shale reservoirs has been critical to successful field operations, especially in hydraulic fracturing and well completions. The Unconfined compressive strength (UCS) and Poisson's ratio (ν) are critical mechanical properties in shale reservoir assessment. The estimation and measurement of shale mechanical properties are often erroneous by not accounting for their heterogeneous and pre-existing features, which yield variability of shale mechanical properties along their lithostratigraphy. Thus, there is a need to investigate the degree of correlation and accuracy in multiscale mechanical evaluations of heterogeneous shales, and the correlation between such micromechanical and macromechanical measurements. This study investigated the impact of inherent heterogeneity on the measurement of continuous micromechanical and macromechanical properties of shale reservoirs using scratch test (ST) and uniaxial compression test (UCT) methods, and the degree of correlation (correlation coefficient, r) of measurements in shale was further assessed for the variability of their measured properties. Shale core samples from three distinct shale formations were utilized and studied, and the core samples were subjected to ST and UCT, respectively. The results from this study showed that despite inherent heterogeneous anomalies and natural fractures in the shale samples analyzed, there is a good degree of correlation (UCS: r ​= ​0.73; ν: r ​= ​0.89) in the micro- and macro-mechanical properties of shales using two independent experimental tests (ST and UCT). This study provides insights for improving the accuracy of mechanical evaluations and numerical modeling in shales with a high degree of heterogeneity and pre-existing natural fractures. The results indicate that when considering the structural complexity and heterogeneity of unconventional reservoirs such as shales, the ST method can provide a better continuous micromechanical assessment of shales. In contrast, the UCT can provide a better bulk macromechanical measurement of shales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100065
JournalRock Mechanics Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


  • Experimental geomechanics
  • Geomechanics
  • Scratch test
  • Shale
  • Uniaxial compression test


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