How the micro-scale fabric of clay-rich mudstone evolves during consolidation in early burial is critical to how they are interpreted in the deeper portions of sedimentary basins. Core samples from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 308, Ursa Basin, Gulf of Mexico, covering seafloor to 600 meters below sea floor (mbsf) are ideal for studying the micro-scale fabric of mudstones. Mudstones of consistent composition and grain size decrease in porosity from 80% at the seafloor to 37% at 600 mbsf. Argon-ion milling produces flat surfaces to image this pore evolution over a vertical effective stress range of 0.25 (71 mbsf) to 4.05. MPa (597 mbsf). With increasing burial, pores become elongated, mean pore size decreases, and there is preferential loss of the largest pores. There is a small increase in clay mineral preferred orientation as recorded by high resolution X-ray goniometry with burial. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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