Compaction (geology)
Compaction refers to the process by which a sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 progressively loses its porosity
Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0–1, or as a percentage between 0–100%...

 due to the effects of loading. This forms part of the process of lithification. When a layer of sediment is originally deposited, it contains an open framework of particles with the pore space being usually filled with water. As more sediment is deposited above the layer, the effect of the increased loading is to increase the particle-to-particle stresses resulting in porosity reduction primarily through a more efficient packing of the particles and to a lesser extent through elastic compression and pressure solution
Pressure solution
In structural geology and diagenesis, pressure solution or pressure dissolution is a deformation mechanism that involves the dissolution of minerals at grain-to-grain contacts into an aqueous pore fluid in areas of relatively high stress and either deposition in regions of relatively low stress...

. The initial porosity of a sediment depends on its lithology
The lithology of a rock unit is a description of its physical characteristics visible at outcrop, in hand or core samples or with low magnification microscopy, such as colour, texture, grain size, or composition. It may be either a detailed description of these characteristics or be a summary of...

. Mudstone
Mudstone is a fine grained sedimentary rock whose original constituents were clays or muds. Grain size is up to 0.0625 mm with individual grains too small to be distinguished without a microscope. With increased pressure over time the platey clay minerals may become aligned, with the...

s start with porosities of >60%, sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

s typically ~40% and carbonate
In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid, characterized by the presence of the carbonate ion, . The name may also mean an ester of carbonic acid, an organic compound containing the carbonate group C2....

s sometimes as high as 70%. Results from hydrocarbon exploration wells show clear porosity reduction trends with depth .

In sediments compacted under self-weight, especially in sedimentary basins,the porosity profiles often show an exponential decrease, called Athy's law as first shown by Athy in 1930. A mathematical analytical solution was obtained by Fowler and Yang to show the theoretical basis for Athy's law. This behaviour can be easily observed in experiments and used as a good approximation to many real data.

Differential compaction

If there is a variation in thickness and compactability of a sequence, loading by later deposits will give rise to spatially varying amounts of compaction. Both the thickness and structure of the later sequence will be controlled by the underlying geology in the absence of any active tectonics. Buried tilted fault blocks in a rift
In geology, a rift or chasm is a place where the Earth's crust and lithosphere are being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics....

 basin often produce large anticlinal
In structural geology, an anticline is a fold that is convex up and has its oldest beds at its core. The term is not to be confused with antiform, which is a purely descriptive term for any fold that is convex up. Therefore if age relationships In structural geology, an anticline is a fold that is...

 closures in the post-rift section that may form traps for hydrocarbons e.g. the Daqing Field
Daqing Field
Daqing Field , formerly called "Taching", is the largest oil field in the People's Republic of China, located between the Songhua river and Nunjiang river in Heilongjiang province....

, the largest oil field
Oil field
An oil field is a region with an abundance of oil wells extracting petroleum from below ground. Because the oil reservoirs typically extend over a large area, possibly several hundred kilometres across, full exploitation entails multiple wells scattered across the area...

 in the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

(PRC), in the Songliao Basin .
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