University of Texas at Austin

Mudrock Systems Research Laboratory


Basin-scale stratigraphic and depositional models provide key context for up-scaling of results at smaller scales. From Loucks and Ruppel (2007)

Devoted to integrated, multidisciplinary research in mudrock systems. Key research elements include:

  • Sedimentology: facies character, distribution and their controls
  • Stratigraphy: regional and reservoir-scale facies architecture
  • Diagenesis: clay and silica diagenesis, compaction, cementation, and fracturing

Sample prep by Ar-ion milling and imaging by FE-SEM allows characterization of pores systems at the nano-scale. From Ruppel and Loucks (2008)

  • Pore systems: imaging, size, abundance, and distribution
  • Petrophysics: wireline log calibration and upscaling
  • Organic geochemistry: kerogen type and distribution
  • Inorganic geochemistry: chemostratigraphy, depositional and diagenetic controls on elemental composition
  • Hydrocarbon chemistry: origin, storage, distribution, saturation, and flow
  • Fluid flow: measurement and modeling of nano-scale permeability and flow
  • Rock physics: controls on variations in rock strength
  • Engineering: analysis of completion practices, and their relation to rock attributes 



Systems Being Studied

- Atoka
- Bakken
- Barnett
- Bone Spring
- Cline
- Duvernay
- Marcellus
- New Albany
- Smithwick
- Spraberry/Dean
- Wolfcamp
- "WolfBerry"
- Woodford
- Zechstein Permian

- Eagle Ford
- Haynesville
- Pearsall
- Tuscaloosa

- Frio
- Wilcox
- Nankai accretionary prism


Research Methods and Instrumentation:

  • Nano-pore analysis: Field-emission SEM microscopy, Ar-ion milling, Atomic force microscopy
  • Elemental and mineralogical composition: Field-emission SEM, cathodoluminescence, X-ray mapping, and light microscopy; electron microprobe, XRD, XRF, stable isotope analysis
  • Fluid-flow modeling: atomic force microscopy
  • Organic matter and hydrocarbon analysis: Rock Eval, GC, GCMS,
  • δ13C, SARA, vitrinite reflectance, kerogen analysis
  • Attribute distribution: integrated outcrop, core, and geophysical analysis, X-ray CT
  • Rock mechanics and fractures: integrated core study and basin history modeling.