Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Evaluation of portable Raman spectroscopic analysis for source-rock thermal maturity assessments on bulk crushed rock

October 12, 2023

This study presents a simplified method and empirical relationships for determining organic matter thermal maturity using a portable Raman system equipped with a 785 nm laser, for analysis of crushed, whole-rock samples. Suites of rocks represented by shale and coal samples with various mineralogical composition, thermal maturity, and total organic carbon (TOC) were used to test the method and build correlations between Raman band separation (RBS) values and traditional thermal maturity indicators, organic matter reflectance (Ro), and programmed temperature pyrolysis (Tmax) values. A set of disparate shale samples, where both vitrinite and solid bitumen reflectance values were reported, have Ro values that range from 0.40 to 4.62%. Above 3.35% Ro, the corresponding RBS values plateau at ∼290 cm−1, thus correlations were evaluated with a linear regression (R2 = 0.96) between 0.40 and 3.35% Ro. Shale samples with Ro < 2% and Tmax < 551 were also used to correlate Tmax and RBS, yielding a linear correlation with an R2 of 0.94. For the coal data set, Ro values range from 1.21 to 4.08% and correlated RBS values plateau at ∼250 cm−1 above Ro = 3.0%, suggesting its correlative application below this maturity level. Several sample preparation methods were tested on cuttings material and standard deviation values for RBS were minimized by washing, drying, and hand crushing the material to pass through a 40-mesh sieve, although less preparation can still yield reliable results. The high degrees of correlation between whole-rock RBS data and two thermal maturity indicators demonstrate the utility of this approach for generating source rock thermal maturity data from minimally processed, whole-rock samples which could easily be applied in field or laboratory settings.

Publication Year 2023
Title Evaluation of portable Raman spectroscopic analysis for source-rock thermal maturity assessments on bulk crushed rock
DOI 10.1016/j.coal.2023.104374
Authors Martha (Rebecca) Stokes, Aaron M. Jubb, Paul C. Hackley, Justin E. Birdwell, Elliott Barnhart, Clint Scott, Jenna L. Shelton, Margaret M. Sanders, Javin J. Hatcherian
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Coal Geology
Index ID 70251562
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Energy Resources Science Center; Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center