AskDefine | Define overpressure

Dictionary Definition

overpressure n : a transient air pressure greater than the surrounding atmospheric pressure; "the overpressure of the blast kills by lethal concussion"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. excess or markedly elevated pressure, especially a transient high pressure due to a shock wave
    • 1904, trans. unknown, Wilhelm von Leube, Julius L. Salinger (ed.), Medical Diagnosis, page 101
      ... or whether the bronchiectatic cavity is due principally to a yielding of the bronchial walls to the inspiratory and expiratory pressure, to the overpressure of the engorging secretion, ...
    • 1997, Task Committee on Blast Resistant Design, Design of Blast Resistant Buildings in Petrochemical Facilities, ASCE, page 3-14
      The walls facing the explosion will experience a reflected overpressure.
    • 2004, Peter Smith & R.W. Zappe, Valve Selection Handbook 5th ed, Elsevier, p191
      Figure 5-19 shows a breather valve that carries separately a direct-loaded vacuum relief value and an overpressure relief valve.


excess or markedly elevated pressure
  • German: Überdruck
  • Italian: sovrappressione
  • Norwegian: overtrykk


  1. To subject to a high pressure


Extensive Definition

Overpressure can mean:

Causes of overpressure

Overpressure in stratigraphic layers is fundamentally caused by the inability of connate pore fluids to escape as the surrounding mineral matrix compacts under the lithostatic pressure caused by overlying layers. Fluid escape may be impeded by sealing of the compacting rock by surrounding impermeable layers (such as evaporites, chalk and cemented sandstones). Alternatively, the rate of burial of the stratigraphic layer may be so great that the efflux of fluid is not sufficiently rapid to maintain hydrostatic pressure.
A common type of situation where overpressure may occur is in a buried river channel filled with coarse sand that is sealed on all sides by impermeable shales.


It is extremely important to be able to diagnose overpressured units when drilling through them, as the drilling mud weight (density) must be adjusted to compensate. If it is not, there is a risk that the pressure difference down-well will cause a dramatic decompression of the overpressured layer and result in a blowout at the well-head with possibly disastrous consequences.
Because overpressured sediments tend to exhibit better porosity than would be predicted from their depth, they often make attractive hydrocarbon reservoirs and are therefore of important economic interest.

Explosives effects


See also

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