Nanoscale Chemical Composition of Source Rock

Source rock or shale is a conglomeration of inorganic minerals – e.g,  silicates and carbonates – interspersed with organic matter. Distinguishing the organic and inorganic phases may explain how nanoscale properties influence the properties of bulk rock. While topographic information (a) offers little compositional information, the hyperspectral image (b, hyPIR) provides an IR spectrum at each pixel. A linear display of 10  spectra (c) selected from the hyPIR image distinguishes inorganic rich (d, 1100 cm−1) from organic-rich (e, 1265 cm−1) pixels. The resolution of this method even allows distinction between aromatic (820-870 cm−1) and aliphatic-rich (1265 cm−1) components, a key indicator of the sample’s thermal maturity.

PiFM and hyPIR of Source Rock
PiFM and hyPIR of Source Rock. Reference: Eichmann, S., Nowak, D., Jacobi, D., Burnham, N. (2018). Nanoscale Hyperspectral Characterization of Source Rock in Unconventional Reservoirs using Photo-Induced Force Microscopy. Microscopy and Microanalysis, 24(S1), 1040-1041. doi: 10.1017/S143192761800569X

A nanoscale understanding of the rock in unconventional reservoirs has significant implications in determining its hydrocarbon potential and provides new insights for processing.

Example data set on source rock, starting with hyPIR to survey the sample, then highlighting a specific wavenumber to study the structure of the matrix of that material. In comparison to topography which is unable to show any material contrast, PiFM unlocks chemical information at the nanoscale.

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