Skip to main content Accessibility help

The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones: a critical review with some new insights

  • M. J . Wilson (a1), L. Wilson (a2) and I . Patey (a2)


The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones is reviewed, mainly through the mechanism of fine particle dispersion and migration leading to the accumulation and blockage of pore throats and significant reduction of permeability. The minerals discussed belong to the smectite, kaolinite, illite and chlorite groups respectively. These minerals usually occur in an aggregate form in reservoir sandstones and the physicochemical properties of these aggregates are reviewed in order to reach a better understanding of the factors that lead to their dispersion in aqueous pore fluids. Particularly significant properties include the surface charge on both basal and edge faces of the clay minerals and how this varies with pH, external surface area of both swelling and non-swelling clays, porosity and pore size distribution in the micro- and meso-pore size range and overall aggregate morphology. For non-swelling clays, and perhaps even for swelling clays, dispersion is thought to be initiated at the micro- or meso-pore level, where the interaction between the pore solution and the charged clay surfaces exposed on adjacent sides of slit- or wedge-shaped pores brings about expansion of the diffuse double electric layer (DDL) and an increase in hydration pressure. Such expansion occurs only in dilute electrolyte solutions in contrast to the effect of concentrated solutions which would shrink the thickness of the DDL and so inhibit dispersion. Stable dispersions are formed, particularly where the solution pH exceeds the isoelectric pH of the mineral, which is often at alkali pH values, so that both basal face and edge surfaces are negatively charged and the particles repel each other. The osmotic swelling of smectitic clays to a gel-like form, so effectively blocking pores in situ, is often invoked as an explanation of formation damage in reservoir sandstones. Such swelling certainly occurs in dilute aqueous solutions under earth surface conditions but it is uncertain that stable smectitic gels could form at the temperatures and pressures associated with deeply buried reservoir sandstones.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones: a critical review with some new insights
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones: a critical review with some new insights
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones: a critical review with some new insights
      Available formats


Copyright © The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2014 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license. (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author


Hide All
Aylmore, L.A.G. & Quirk, J.P. (1967) The micropore size distributions of clay mineral systems. Journal of Soil Science, 18, 1–17.10.1111/j.1365-2389.1967.tb01481.x
Aylmore, L.A.G., Sills, I.D. & Quirk, J.P. (1970) Surface area of homoionic illite and montmorillonite clay minerals as measured by the sorption of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Clays and Clay Minerals, 18, 91–96.
Baker, J.C., Unwins, P.J.R. & Mackinnon, I.D.R. (1993) ESEM study of illite/smectite freshwater sensitivity in sandstone reservoirs. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 9, 83–94.10.1016/0920-4105(93)90069-Q
Baker, J.C., Unwins, P.J.R. & Mackinnon, I.D.R. (1994). Freshwater sensitivity of corrensite and chlorite/ smectite in hydrocarbon reservoirs – an E.E. study. Journal of Petroleum Scence and Engineering, 11, 241–247.
Bauer, A., Velde, B. & Berger, G. (1998) Kaolinite transformation in high molar KOH solutions. Applied Geochemistry, 13, 619–629.
Billault, V., Beaufort, D., Baronnet, A. & Lacharpagne JC. (2003) A nanopetrographic and textural study of grain-coating chlorites in sandstone reservoirs. Clay Minerals, 38, 315–328.10.1180/0009855033830098
Bishop, S.R. (1997) The experimental investigation of formation damage due to induced flocculation of clays within a sandstone pore structure by a high salinity brine. Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE 38156, 123–143.
Brady, P.V., Cygan, R.T. & Nagy, K.L. (1996) Molecular controls on kaolinite surface charge. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 183, 356–364.10.1006/jcis.1996.0557
Buatier, M., Honnerez, J. & Ehret, G. (1989) Fe-smectiteglauconite transition in hydrothermal green clays from the Galapagos spreading centre. Clays and Clay Minerals, 37, 532–541.10.1346/CCMN.1989.0370605
Chorom, M & Rengasamy, P. (1995) Dispersion and zeta potential of pure clays as related to net particle charge under varying pH, electrolyte concentration and cation type. European Journal of Soil Science, 46, 657–665.10.1111/j.1365-2389.1995.tb01362.x
Christidis, G.E., Blum, A.E. & Eberl, D.D. (2006) Influence of layer charge and charge distribution on the flow behaviour and swelling of bentonites. Applied Clay Science, 34, 125–138.10.1016/j.clay.2006.05.008
Courbe, C., Velde, B. & Meunier, A. (1981) Weathering of glauconites: reversal of the glauconitization process in a soil profile in western France. Clay Minerals, 16, 231–243.10.1180/claymin.1981.016.3.02
Davis, D.W., Rochow, T.G., Rowe, F.G., Fuller, M.L., Kerr P.F & Hamilton, P.K. (1950) Electron Micrographs of Reference Clay Minerals. Preliminary Report no.6. American Petroleum Institute. Research Project 49.
De Pablo, L., Chávez, M.L. & de Pablo, J.J. (2005) Stability of Na-, K-, and Ca-montmorillonite at high temperatures and pressures: a Monte Carlo simulation. Langmuir, 21, 10874–10884.10.1021/la051334a
Diamond, S. (1970) Pore size distribution in clays. Clays and Clay Minerals, 18, 7–23.10.1346/CCMN.1970.0180103
Dogan, A.U., Dogan, M., Onal, M., Sarikaya, Y., Aburub, A. & Webster, D.E. (2006) Baseline studies of the Clay Minerals Society source clays: specific surface area by the Brunauer Emmett Teller (BET) method. Clays and Clay Minerals, 54, 62–66.10.1346/CCMN.2006.0540108
Du, X., Sun, Z., Forsling, W. & Tang, H. (1997) Acid-base properties of aqueous illite surfaces. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 187, 221–231.
Ehrenberg, S.N., Aagard, P., Wilson, M.J., Fraser A.R & Duthie, D.M.L. (1993) Depth-dependent transformation of kaolinite to dickite in sandstones of the Norwegian continental shelf. Clay Minerals, 28, 325–352.10.1180/claymin.1993.028.3.01
Emerson, W.W. & Chi, C.L. (1977) Exchangeable calcium, magnesium and sodium and the dispersion of illites in water. II. Dispersion of illites in water. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 15, 255–262.
Gray, D.H. & Rex, R.W. (1966) Formation damage in sandstones caused by clay dispersion and migration. Clays and Clay Minerals, 15, 355–366.
Gu, X. & Evans, L.J. (2007) Modelling the adsorption of Cd(II), Cu(II), Ni(II), Pb(II) and Zn(II) onto Fithian illite. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 307, 317–325.10.1016/j.jcis.2006.11.022
Gupta, V. & Miller, J.D. (2010) Surface force measurements at the basal planes of ordered kaolinite particles. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 344, 362–371.10.1016/j.jcis.2010.01.012
Gupta, V., Hampton, M.A., Stokes, J.R., Nguyen, A.V. & Miller, J.V. (2011) Particle interactions in kaolinite suspensions and corresponding aggregate structures. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 359, 95–103.10.1016/j.jcis.2011.03.043
Hayatdavoudi, A. & Ghalambor, A. (1996) Controlling formation damage caused by kaolinite clay minerals. Part I. Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE 31118, 473–479.
Hayatdavoudi, A. & Ghalambor, A. (1998) Controlling formation damage caused by kaolinite clay minerals. Part II. Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE 39464, 421–430.
Hillier, S. (1994) Pore-lining chlorites in siliciclastic reservoir sandstones: electron microprobe, SEM and XRD data and implications for their origin. Clay Minerals, 29, 665–679.10.1180/claymin.1994.029.4.20
Hower, J., Eslinger, E.G., Hower, M.E. & Oerry, E.A. (1976) Mechanism of burial metamorphism of argillaceous sediments. I. Mineralogical and chemical evidence. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 87, 725–737.10.1130/0016-7606(1976)87<725:MOBMOA>2.0.CO;2
Humphreys, B., Smith, S.A. & Strong, G.E. (1989) Authigenic chlorite in late Triassic sandstones from the Central Graben, North Sea. Clay Minerals, 24, 427–444.10.1180/claymin.1989.024.2.17
Hurst, A. & Nadeau, P.H. (1995) Clay microporosity in reservoir sandstone: an application of quantitative electron microscopy in petrophysical evaluation. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, 79, 563–573.
Inoue, A. & Kitagawa, R. (1994) Morphological characteristics of illitic clay minerals from a hydrothermal system. American Mineralogist, 79, 700–711.
Inoue, A., Velde, B., Meunier, A. & Touchard, G. (1988) Mechanism of illite formation during smectite-toillite conversion in a hydrothermal system. American Mineralogist, 73, 1325–1334.
Jeans, C.V. (2006) Clay mineralogy of the Permo- Triassic strata of the British Isles: onshore and offshore. Clay Minerals, 41, 309–354.
Jozefaciuk, G. (2009) Effect of the size of aggregates on pore characteristics of minerals measured by mercury intrusion and water-vapor desorption techniques. Clays and Clay Minerals, 57, 586–601.10.1346/CCMN.2009.0570507
Katti, K.S. & Katti, D.R. (2006) Relationship of swelling and swelling pressure on silica-water interactions in montmorillonite. Langmuir, 22, 532–537.10.1021/la051533u
Krueger, R.F. (1986) An overview of formation damage and well productivity in oilfield operations. Journal of Petroleum Technology, 38, 131–152.10.2118/10029-PA
Lackovic, K., Angove, M.J., Wells, J.D. & Johnson, B.B. (2003) Modelling the adsorption of citric acid onto Muloorina illite and related clay minerals. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 267, 49–59.10.1016/S0021-9797(03)00693-3
Lanson, B. (1997) Decomposition of experimental X-ray diffraction pattern (profile fitting): a convenient way to study clay minerals. Clays and Clay Minerals, 45, 132–146.10.1346/CCMN.1997.0450202
Likos, W.J. & Lu, N. (2006) Pore-scale analysis of bulk volume change from crystalline interlayer swelling in Na+– and Ca2+–montmorillonite. Clays and Clay Minerals, 54, 515–528.10.1346/CCMN.2006.0540412
MacEwan, D.M.C. & Wilson, M.J. (1980) Interlayer and intercalation complexes of clay minerals. Pp. 197–248 in: Crystal Structures of Clay Minerals and their X-Ray Identification (G.W. Brindley & G. Brown, editors). Monograph no. 5, Mineralogical Society, London.
McHardy, W.J., Wilson, M.J. & Tait, J.M. (1982) Electron microscope and X-ray diffraction studies of filamentous illitic clay from sandstones of the Magnus Field. Clay Minerals, 17, 23–39.10.1180/claymin.1982.017.1.04
Méring, J. & Oberlin, A. (1971) The smectites. Pp. 231–254 in: The Electron Optical Investigation of Clays (J.A. Gard, editor). Monograph no. 3, Mineralogical Society, London.
Mohan, K.K. & Fogler, H.S. (1997) Colloidally induced smectitic fines migration: existence of microquakes. American Institute of Chemical Engineers Institute Journal. 43, 565–576.
Mohan, K.K., Reed, M.G. & Fogler, H.S. (1999) Formation damage in smectitic sandstones by high ionic strength brines. Colloids and Surfaces: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 154, 249–257.
Murray, H.H. & Lyons, S.C. (1959) Further correlations of kaolinite crystallinity with chemical and physical properties. Clays and Clay Minerals, 8, 11–17.10.1346/CCMN.1959.0080104
Nadeau, P.H. (1985) The physical dimensions of fundamental clay particles. Clay Minerals, 20, 499–514.10.1180/claymin.1985.020.4.06
Nadeau, P.H. (1998) An experimental study of the effects of diagenetic clay minerals on reservoir sands. Clays and Clay Minerals, 46, 18–26.10.1346/CCMN.1998.0460103
Nadeau, P.H., Tait, J.M., McHardy, W.J. & Wilson, M.J. (1984a) Interstratified XRD characteristics of physical mixtures of elementary clay particles. Clay Minerals, 19, 67–76.
Nadeau, P.H., Wilson, M.J., McHardy, W.J. & Tait, J.M. (1984b) Interstratified clays as fundamental particles. Science, 225, 923–925.10.1126/science.225.4665.923
Nadeau, P.H., Wilson, M.J., McHardy, W.J. & Tait, J.M. (1985) The conversion of smectite to illite during diagenesis: evidence from some illitic clays from bentonites and sandstones. Mineralogical Magazine, 49, 393–400.10.1180/minmag.1985.049.352.10
Norrish, K. (1954) The swelling of montmorillonite. Discussions of the Faraday Society, 18, 120–134.10.1039/df9541800120
Odriozola, G. & Guevara- Rodríguez, F. de, J. (2004) Namontmorillonite hydrates under basin conditions: Hybrid Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations. Langmuir, 20, 2010–2016.10.1021/la035784j
Rengasamy, P. (1982) Dispersion of calcium clay. Australian Journal of Soil Research. 20, 153–157.
Reynolds, R.C. (1980) Interstratified clay minerals. Pp. 249–304 in: Crystal Structure of Clay Minerals and their X-Ray Identification (G.W. Brindley & G. Brown, editors). Mineralogical Society Monograph no. 5, London.
Salles, F., Beurroies, I., Bildstein, O., Jullien, M., Raynal, J., Denoyel, R. & Van Damme, H. (2008) A calorimetric study of mesoscopic swelling and hydration sequence in solid Na-montmorillonite. Applied Clay Science, 39, 186–201.10.1016/j.clay.2007.06.001
Sardini, P., El Albani, A., Pret, D., Gaboreau, S., Siitari- Kauppi, M. & Beaufort, D. (2009) Mapping and quantifying the clay aggregate microporosity in medium- to coarse-grained sandstones using the 14C-PMMA method. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 79, 584–592.10.2110/jsr.2009.063
Schramm, L.L. & Kwak, J.C.T. (1982) Influence of exchangeable cation composition on the size and shape of montmorillonite particles in dilute suspension. Clays and Clay Minerals, 30, 40–48.10.1346/CCMN.1982.0300105
Schultz, L.G. (1969) Lithium and potassium absorption, dehydroxylation temperature, and structural water content of aluminous smectites. Clays and Clay Minerals. 17, 115–149.10.1346/CCMN.1969.0170302
Sherwood, P.T. & Hollis, B.G. (1966) Studies of the Keuper Marl: chemical properties and classification tests. Report of the Road Research Laboratory, 41, 15 pp.
Środoń, J., Eberl, D.D. & Drits, V.A. (2000) Evolution of fundamental particle size during illitization of smectite and implications for reaction mechanism. Clays and Clay Minerals, 48, 446–458.10.1346/CCMN.2000.0480405
Suquet, H., de la Calle, C. & Pezerat, H. (1975) Swelling and structural organization of saponite. Clays and Clay Minerals, 23, 1–9.10.1346/CCMN.1975.0230101
Suquet, H., Iiyama, J.T., Kodama, H. & Pezerat, H. (1977) Synthesis and swelling properties of saponites with increasing layer charge. Clays and Clay Minerals, 25, 231–242.10.1346/CCMN.1977.0250310
Tchistiakov, A.A. (2000) Colloid chemistry of in situ clay-induced formation damage. Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE 58747, 1–9.
Tombácz, E., Nyilas, T., Libor, Z. & Csanaki, C. (2004) Surface charge heterogeneity and aggregation of clay lamellae in aqueous suspensions. Progress in Colloid and Polymer Science, 125, 206–215.
Tomkins, R.E. (1981) Scanning electron microscopy of a regular chlorite/smectite (corrensite) from a hydrocarbon reservoir sandstone. Clays and Clay Minerals, 29, 233–235.
Vali, H. & Kö ster, H.M. (1986) Expanding behaviour, structural disorder, regular and random irregular interstratification of 2:1 layer silicates studied by high-resolution images of transmission electron microscopy. Clay Minerals, 21, 827–859.10.1180/claymin.1986.021.5.01
Van Ranst, E. & De Coninck, F. (1983) Evolution of glauconite in imperfectly drained sandy soils of the Belgian Campine. Zeitschrift für Planzenernährung und Bodenkunde, 146, 415–426.
Verhoef, P.N.W. & Snijders, B. (1999) Geschiktheid van glauconiehoudend zand voor wegconstructies. Rapport aan: NV Westerscheldetunnel, Bouwdienst Rijkswaterstaat. TU-Delft rapport, Delft, The Netherlands, 11 pp. Rapportnummer TA/IG/99.023.
Weaver, C.E. (1953) A lath-shaped non-expanded 2:1 clay mineral. American Mineralogist, 38, 279–289.
Wilson, M.J. (2013) Deer, Howie and Zussman, Rock- Forming Minerals. Volume 3C, Clay Minerals, The Geological Society, London, 730 pp.
Yadav, V.P., Sharma, T. & Saxena, V.K. (2000) Dissolution kinetics of potassium from glauconitic sandstone in acid lixiviant. International Journal of Mineral Processing, 60, 15–36.10.1016/S0301-7516(99)00083-6
Zheng, H. (1988) Effects of Exchangeable Cations on Coagulation-Flocculation and Swelling Behavior of Smectites. MSc Thesis. Texas Tech. University, USA.
Zhou, Z., Cameron, S., Kadatz, B. & Gunter, W.D. (1996) Clay swelling diagrams: their applications in formation damage control. Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal, 2, 99–106.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The influence of individual clay minerals on formation damage of reservoir sandstones: a critical review with some new insights

  • M. J . Wilson (a1), L. Wilson (a2) and I . Patey (a2)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.