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A review of spatially resolved techniques and applications of organic petrography in shale petroleum systems

April 16, 2021

This review examines new techniques and applications of organic petrography in source-rock reservoir petroleum systems that have occurred along with development of the global ‘shale revolution’ in energy resources. The review is limited to techniques and instrumentation that provide spatially resolved information, typically at or below microscales, for dispersed organic matter occurring in situ in samples of shale and mudrock. A brief summary of ion beam sample preparation is followed by discussion of the most common analytical techniques and applications. Advantages and limitations of each technique, including requisite sample preparation, types of information generated [e.g., molecular or elemental (isotopic) abundance], sensitivity, and resolution are discussed. In a few cases, techniques not yet applied to organic petrology of shale or mudrock are described (e.g., X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy imaging), in anticipation of near-term future application. The most common in situ techniques applied for characterization of organic matter in shale and mudrock include optical (including fluorescence) and electron microscopies, Raman, fluorescence, and infrared spectroscopies, and surficial measurements via force microscopy. Techniques that show growing application to organic petrography of shale include tip-enhanced photothermal infrared spectroscopy, mass spectrometry imaging, and synchrotron-based spectroscopies, among others. It is anticipated that the future of dispersed organic matter petrography will hold continued development of integrated instrument techniques (e.g., simultaneous or sequential correlative microscopies and/or spectroscopies of the same location), increased instrumental resolution, increased use of multiscale and multimodal organic petrography investigations, and three-dimensional imaging and chemical speciation mapping applications via multiple analytical approaches.

Publication Year 2021
Title A review of spatially resolved techniques and applications of organic petrography in shale petroleum systems
DOI 10.1016/j.coal.2021.103745
Authors Paul C. Hackley, Aaron M. Jubb, Ryan J. McAleer, Brett J. Valentine, Justin E. Birdwell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Coal Geology
Index ID 70221482
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Climate Science Center; Florence Bascom Geoscience Center; Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center