The Pioneer Sands glossary of terms is a great resource for our customers and visitors. Here you can find definitions for many industry terms and acronyms regarding the multiple uses of industrial sands. You'll find this section to be a useful supplement to the research papers and case studies available through our website. Locate a definition in the immediate display of general terms or choose an industry from the list to find terms specific to their application.

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American Petroleum Institute

Bulk Density
A dry test to gain an estimation of the weight of sand that will fill a unit volume and includes both sand and porosity void volume.

Crude Oil
Oil as it comes from the well, unrefined petroleum.

An accumulation of oil or gas capable of being produced commercially.

Development Wells
Wells drilled in an area already proved to be productive.

The act of boring into the earth.

A liquid dust suppressant coating applied to silica sand during production to reduce nuisance and respirable dust.

Frac Sand
Fracturing or hydraulic “frac” sand is also known as a “proppant”. It is comprised of washed and graded high silica-content quartz sand with specific grain size and is used with high-pressure fluids and pumped into oil and gas wells to enlarge or scour out openings in oil- or gas-bearing rock or to create new fractures from which oil or gas can be recovered.

The process of pumping fluids with proppants into a productive formation at high rates of injection to hydraulically break the rock.  The "fractures" which are created in the rock act as flow channels for the oil and gas to the well.

Gas Wells
A well that produces natural gas.

Geothermal energy is created by the heat of the earth. It generates reliable power and emits almost no greenhouse gases. The earth's geothermal resource represents significant untapped energy.

Grain Clusters
The attaching of sand grains to one another during ther mining and manufacturing process of proppants.

Hydraulic Conductivity
The parameter relating movement of fluid through porous media. Hydraulic conductivity is usually expressed in millidarcy-feet or gallons/day/ft2.

ISO Crush Test
Compares proppant crush resistance and overall strength under varying stresses.

Krumbein Scale
A system developed by William Krumbein to determine the Roundness and Sphericity of a granular material by visually comparing grains to a standard reference chart.

Marcellus Shale
The Marcellus Shale is a Middle Devonian-age black, low density, carbonaceous (organic rich) shale that occurs in the subsurface beneath much of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. Small areas of Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia are also underlain by the Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus Shale is a major source of natural gas.

Mohs Hardness
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer material. 

An intrinsic geometric property of a material related to the ease with which a fluid can move through it. Permeability is usually expressed in darcies.

Ratio of the volume of void space in a sample divided by the total volume of that sample. Porosity is usually expressed in percent.

Material used in hydraulic fracturing for holding open the cracks made in the formation by the extremely high pressure applied in the treatment.  The sand grains on other material is suspended in the fracturing fluid that are forced into the formation and remain to prop open the cracks and crevices permitting the oil or gas to flow more freely.

Measure of the sharpness of a particle's corners.

Safety Data Sheet


A very fine grained sedimentary rock formed by the consolidation and compression of clay, silt, or mud.

Sieve Analysis
A sieve analysis (or gradation test) is a practice or procedure used (commonly in civil engineering) to assess the particle size distribution (also called gradation) of a granular material.

Silica Flour
Powdered sand that helps oil well cement maintain low permeability and high compressive strength under high temperature conditions.

A measure of the amount of one substance (the solute) which will dissolve in a given amount of another (the solvent).

Specific Gravity
The dimensionless ratio of the weight of a material to that of the same volume of water. Most common minerals have specific gravities between 2 and 7.

Measure of the degree to which a particle approximates being perfectly spherical.

Strength-Stabilizing Agent. The Halliburton SSA-1™ agent (also called silica flour) is a powdered sand that helps oilwell cement maintain low permeability and high compressive strength under high-temperature conditions.

Measure of the degree to which the water loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particulates. In practical terms it is the amount of silt and clay sized minerals in a sample. Turbidity is usually expressed in Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU) or Formazin Turbidity Units (FTU).

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