In the present paper, we review the evidence that intergranular contacts in sedimentary rocks are normally much smaller than the grain size. We show that an analysis by Ghosh and Fuchs of the frequency‐dependent dielectric constant of a brine‐filled whitestone and a sandstone implies a ratio of contact radius to grain size in the 10−3 to 10−2 range. We argue that sintering is prevented in situ by strong repulsive forces arising from charging and hydration of the grain surfaces in contact with the brine within the pore space. We show, in fact, that considering only these repulsive forces consolidation is prevented, thereby reducing the question of the origin of small contacts to the question of the nature of the consolidation process in the presence of strong repulsions. We outline briefly a mechanism of consolidation, but defer detailed study of consolidation for future work.
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