EGI’s Research Service Capabilities, encompassed under the term Core through Pore™, include techniques related to petrology, geochemistry, geomechanics, and flow dynamics— the data from which has helped generate reports on sedimentology, petrology, thermochronology, geochronology, and inorganic geochemistry across Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, North America and South America. Recent publications utilizing research services have included mineralogical/petrological, geological, and geochemical studies across a diverse range of geological settings related to both academic and industry work, ranging from basin tectonics and sedimentology to small-volume magmatism and geothermal energy.
Techniques within research services fit within a progressive workflow for geological and material science samples which involves the use of optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction (XRD)/X-ray fluorescence (XRF) through to the use of scanning electron microscopes for mineralogical mapping and the progressively higher-resolution techniques of focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Starting with optical microscopy, recent projects have included those in the Astrakhan region of Russia, and geoarchaeological work on artifacts. Our optical microscopy work includes petrological atlases with panoramic thin section images allowing comparisons of the mineralogy, micro-structural deformation, and diagenetic evolution of complex sample sets to be evaluated and presented.
X-ray diffraction and x-ray fluorescence are critical in establishing the mineralogical and geochemical composition of samples, especially important in samples which are clay-rich like shales and other tight, unconventional reservoir rocks. Our XRD and XRF knowledge is especially useful when paired with techniques like optical microscopy and mineral mapping allowing both the composition, textures, fabrics, and micro-depositional fabrics to be evaluated.
Scanning electron microscopy is commonly used as a follow-up to optical microscopy and geochemical analysis, answering questions which higher-resolution techniques are more suited to. Our SEM work has included large studies from Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, North America and South America consisting of mineralogical, porosity and permeability, fluid-flow, and deformational evaluation of samples. Additional SEM work relates to Department of Energy grant work under the Energy Frontiers Research Center, looking at architected materials as an analogue to shales.
One of the most critical aspects of our research services and the Core through Pore™ workflow is the ability to contextually connect nano to micrometers areas of interest to larger sample sets, for example cores and well logs. Our MAPS software is one the ways in which we achieve this. MAPS software allows large (mm-scale) areas of samples to be scanned using high-resolution SEM imaging which can then be correlated to additional datasets.