Micro-CT in Geology and Geoscience
Micro-CT (micro-computed tomography) is a growing technology with many useful applications in geoscience. As a non-destructive, high-resolution 3D imaging and analysis method, micro-CT provides useful information on the porosity, micro-structure and composition of geological samples.
This post provides an overview of the what’s possible with micro-CT, with examples and the advantages of the technique, including multi-scale imaging and imaging of dynamic processes.
Blue Scientific is the official distributor for Bruker Micro-CT in the UK, Ireland and Nordic region (Finland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland). For more information and quotes, please get in touch:
Micro-CT is a non-destructive 3D imaging and analysis method, for studying the internal structure of all types of samples, with diameters from 1 mm to 20cm and full drill cores. Take virtual slices through objects and build stacks of slices for 3D volume rendering.
This has applications in all fields of geoscience:
- Oil and gas
- Structural geology
- Construction materials
- …and more
Advantages of Micro-CT in Geology
Acquire three-dimensional information about the structure of your samples:
- Porosity analysis (pore networks, connectivity and flow paths)
- 3D mineral distribution
- 3D analysis of shape and morphometries, including grains, sedimentary patterns, fossils, etc.
The other great strength of micro-CT is that it is a non-destructive internal imaging method, requiring no sample preparation:
- Perform multi-scale analysis – more info…
- Monitor dynamic processes and changing samples – more info…
- Study precious samples and preserve them digitally
Rocks can be segmented into binary pores versus solid models. Access 3D information about the properties of the pore network, including its local thickness.
Based on the 3D imaging, transport properties can be modelled directly. This provides information about permeability, multiphase flow properties, capillary pressure curves, resistivity index, etc. For conventional reservoirs, simulated values are very close to laboratory measured values. An increasing number of methods are becoming available for unconventional reservoirs.
Plug-ins are available for selecting interconnected pores and complex ROIS – more details…
3D Mineral Distribution
If there is sufficient contrast, rocks can be segmented into different mineral fractions. This is useful when analysing ores.
Analyse large samples at low resolution, and small samples at high resolution. Very high resolution can be achieved on good sample sizes.
You can also select regions of interest rather than scanning the whole sample, to save time and focus on just the data you need. There is no physical sub-sampling.
In the example below, a drill core was scanned with the Bruker SkyScan 1275 automated micro-CT, and the same area was also analysed with the Bruker M4 TORNADO micro-XRF to produce an element map. The data was overlaid for 3D alignment of both imaging modalities:
A recorded webinar is available from Bruker with more information about geological applications of micro-CT, with lots more examples:
The Bruker micro-CT range includes benchtop scanners up to large, advanced systems with unmatched specifications. The newest in the range is the SkyScan 1275 self-optimising scanner, for automated imaging at the press of a single button. Image reconstruction is extremely fast, making it an extremely convenient way to add micro-CT to your lab.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about any of these applications, please get in touch: