Measurement of electrical properties of shales with examples from Appalachian and Illinois coal basins

Smith, J. G. ; Sheets, L. P.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
Introduction Potential applications that exploit the electrical properties of coal measure rocks include: (1) radar sensing of coal face, floor, and roof for automated mining operations; (2) underground wireless communications; and (3) sensing extent of subsidence, blasting operations, coal gasification bums, and moisture migrations. Impediments to exploitation of electrical properties include: (1) a lack of reliable electrical properties data for in situ conditions and (2) a lack of correlation data between electrical properties and other relevant physical properties. In this paper data are presented for electrical conductivity and permittivity for Appalachian and Illinois shales for a frequency range 2 x 10 to 2 x 10 Hz. These data are useful in establishing in situ electrical property variability, lower limits, and anisotropy. Electrical proper┬Čties measurement and values for other coal measure rocks are discussed as well. Laboratory measurement For the frequency range investigated, a capacitance bridge and Q-meter were employed. These instruments are designed to yield bulk values of permittivity and conductivity. Disk samples of thickness 0.396 cm (0.156 in.) and diameter 2.54 cm (1 in.) were machined from cores obtained from the two coal basins. While both the capacitance bridge and the Q-meter must be balanced manually, the bridge has an analog-to-digital interface and an attached computer specifically designed to expedite data collection and interpretation. Sample holders are critical components in the measurement process. A Hartshom-Ward holder was employed with the bridge and a Marconi micrometer jig was used with the Q-meter. Neither commercial sample holder was designed to regulate ambient humidity conditions. Because water adsorbed on sample faces may cause errors approaching 100%, special enclosures were designed for both holders. Each enclosure contains a flush-mounted externally-manipulable carousel, an externally-manipulable rigid arm that can accomodate translational motion and three-dimensional rotation, a compartment for humidity regulating solids or liquids, and a humidity sensor. Each enclosure will accomodate several samples that can be manipulated within the enclosure without opening it. Experience gained during this research demonstrated that humidity regulation was necessary to obtain repeatable results. Grinding and polishing shale to a very thin thickness (about 0.4 mm) was shown to cause changes in electrical properties as well. These latter changes were attributed to alterations in the water content. Theoretical considerations A very comprehensive discussion of the electrical properties of sedimentary rocks is available in literature (Sen and Chew, 1983). These authors reviewed the work of others and proposed modifications to better explain the frequency dependent behavior of the permittivity and conductivity of rocks. A large portion of their article was devoted to explanations of large relative permittivities at low frequencies such as observed in this research. They noted that the electrical properties of formations containing shales and clays are the most difficult to explain. Sen and Chew noted the need for additional experimental data and further refinements in theory. Results Shales, limestones, and sandstones were examined for a single 150-m (492-ft) core from Pennsylvania and for a dark shale from a southern Illinois coal mine. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the conductivities and relative permitivities for the southern Illinois dark shale at a single location. The differences in electrical properties clearly
Full Article Download:
(120 kb)