Journal Highlight: Applicability of micro-FTIR in detecting shale heterogeneity

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  • Published: Jan 1, 2017
  • Author: spectroscopyNOW
  • Channels: Infrared Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Journal Highlight: Applicability of micro-FTIR in detecting shale heterogeneity
Samples of shale from the Illinois Basin have been analysed by micro-FTIR spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopic X-ray spectroscopy to explore the distribution, connectivity and chemical composition of organic matter, clay minerals, carbonate minerals and quartz.

Applicability of micro-FTIR in detecting shale heterogeneity

Journal of Microscopy, 2017, 265, 60-72
Carley Gasaway, Maria Mastalerz, Fred Krause, Chris Clarkson and Chris Debuhr

Abstract: Samples of Late Devonian/Early Mississippian New Albany Shale from the Illinois Basin, having maturities ranging from early mature to postmature, were analysed using micro-Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, ImageJ processing software and scanning electron microscopic X-ray spectroscopy to explore the distribution, connectivity and chemical composition of organic matter, clay minerals, carbonate minerals and quartz, and to further test the applicability of micro-FTIR mapping to study shale heterogeneity. Each sample was analysed in planes parallel and perpendicular to the bedding to investigate anisotropy in component distribution, with a possible implication for better understanding anisotropy in porosity and permeability in organic-matter-rich shales. Our results show that for low-maturity samples, organic matter is better connected in the plane parallel to the bedding than in the plane perpendicular to the bedding. Organic matter connectivity decreases with increasing maturity as a result of kerogen transformation. Clay minerals are very well connected in both planes, whereas carbonate minerals are not abundant whilst dominantly isolated in most samples, independent of maturity. This study demonstrates that micro-FTIR mapping is a valuable tool for studying shale heterogeneity on a micrometre to millimetre scale that becomes even more powerful in combination with scanning electron microscopy techniques, which extend observations to a nanometre scale. However, to obtain meaningful and comparable results, micro-FTIR mapping requires very careful standardization, precise selection of peak heights/areas and mapping conditions (such as aperture size, scan numbers, resolution, etc.) well suited for the analysed samples.

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