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Imaging Texture and Porosity in Mudstones and Shales: Comparison of Secondary and Ion-Milled Backscatter SEM Methods

Observations from a number of unconventional reservoirs lead us to conclude that four major pore types exist in fine-grained reservoir and non-reservoir rocks, that they are effectively connected, and that pore sizes from nanometers to microns must be considered when evaluating size distributions. This paper uses SEM imaging of Haynesville, Horn River, Barnett and Marcellus Shales to illustrate that pore types other than those hosted by organics are present in unconventional shale gas reservoirs, and that they are continuous and connected to kerogen-hosted pores. In addition, we present evidence that the maximum size of pores originating in organic matter is determined by the size of the kerogen mass (in the case of organic particles) or the geometry of enclosing crystals (in the case of amorphous, pore-filling kerogen). Pairs of secondary and ion-milled backscatter SEM images address the misconception that large pores observed in secondary electron images are grain pullouts.

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Other Resources

The following resources are available concerning Sample Preparation related instruments:

  • Image Gallery
    -View a selection of Cross Section Polisher images
  • Mixed Media
    -View our series of videos on the use of the Cross Section Polisher