Detailed Description of Oil Shale Organic and Mineralogical Heterogeneity via Fourier Transform Infrared Microscopy

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Mineralogical and geochemical information on reservoir and source rocks is necessary to assess and produce from petroleum systems. The standard methods in the petroleum industry for obtaining these properties are bulk measurements on homogenized, generally crushed, and pulverized rock samples and can take from hours to days to perform. New methods using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy have been developed to more rapidly obtain information on mineralogy and geochemistry. However, these methods are also typically performed on bulk, homogenized samples. We present a new approach to rock sample characterization incorporating multivariate analysis and FTIR microscopy to provide non-destructive, spatially resolved mineralogy and geochemistry on whole rock samples. We are able to predict bulk mineralogy and organic carbon content within the same margin of error as standard characterization techniques, including X-ray diffraction (XRD) and total organic carbon (TOC) analysis. Validation of the method was performed using two oil shale samples from the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin with differing sedimentary structures. One sample represents laminated Green River oil shales, and the other is representative of oil shale breccia. The FTIR microscopy results on the oil shales agree with XRD and LECO TOC data from the homogenized samples but also give additional detail regarding sample heterogeneity by providing information on the distribution of mineral phases and organic content. While measurements for this study were performed on oil shales, the method could also be applied to other geological samples, such as other mudrocks, complex carbonates, and soils.




Washburn, K. E., Birdwell, J. E., Foster, M., & Gutierrez, F. (2015). Detailed Description of Oil Shale Organic and Mineralogical Heterogeneity via Fourier Transform Infrared Microscopy. Energy and Fuels, 29(7), 4264–4271.

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