Our study yielded new insights into the fundamental mechanisms governing hydrocarbon transport within shale nanopores," said Hongwu Xu, an author from Los Alamos National Laboratory's Earth and Environmental Sciences Division. "The results will ultimately help develop better pressure management strategies for enhancing unconventional hydrocarbon recovery." Most of U.S. natural gas is hidden deep within shale reservoirs. Low shale porosity and permeability make recovering natural gas in tight reservoirs challenging, especially in the late stage of well life. The pores are miniscule -- typically less than five nanometers -- and poorly understood. Understanding the hydrocarbon retention mechanisms deep underground is critical to increase methane recovering efficiency. Pressure management is a cheap and effective tool available to control production efficiency that can be readily adjusted during well operation -- but the study's multi-institution research team discovered a moved here trade-off. This team, including the lead author, Chelsea Neil, also of Los Alamos, integrated molecular dynamics simulations with novel in situ high-pressure small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to examine methane behavior in Marcellus shale in the Appalachian basin, the nation's largest natural gas field, to better understand gas transport and recovery as pressure is modified to extract the gas. The investigation focused on interactions between methane and the organic content (kerogen) in rock that stores a majority of hydrocarbons.