Thermal Indices Innovation Project

Photomicrograph Atlas

Photomicrograph Atlas

The Photomicrograph Atlas provides:

• Education - A basic tutorial in nomenclature

• Classification - Taxonomy information

• Communication - A method to inform about laboratory research

• Research - A database of fossil fuel characterization images

Launch Atlas

Science Center Objects

The presence of an interconnected organic nano-porosity network has emerged as an important control on reservoir permeability and hydrocarbon storage space in shale petroleum systems. Application of SEM techniques to Ar ion-milled rock surfaces has become standard industry practice for identification of organic pore systems and mudstone reservoir characterization. There is general consensus that organic porosity forms as a consequence of advancing thermal maturity and the generation of hydrocarbons from kerogen. However, some studies have found conflicting results or no systematic relationship between organic porosity and thermal maturity, and there are inconsistencies regarding the thermal regime at the onset of organic porosity development and its development in different organic matter types. One caution is that interpretations from SEM observations may not be representative of the larger, bulk sample due to the small areas imaged at typical high magnifications. Another difficulty in SEM petrography of organic matter is the inability, in most cases, to distinguish solid bitumen from kerogen, or to differentiate kerogen types.


Use correlative light and SEM techniques to document the development of organic porosity in different thermal regimes, organic matter types, and at a range of scales. Innovate new applications of specialized microscopes to chemical characterization of organic matter across a range of thermal maturities in the North American shale plays.