Orientational mapping of minerals in Pierre shale using X-ray diffraction tensor tomography
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionIUCrJ. 2021, 8 (5), 747-756. 10.1107/S205225252100587X
Shales have a complex mineralogy with structural features spanning several length scales, making them notoriously difficult to fully understand. Conventional attenuation-based X-ray computed tomography (CT) measures density differences, which, owing to the heterogeneity and sub-resolution features in shales, makes reliable interpretation of shale images a challenging task. CT based on X-ray diffraction (XRD-CT), rather than intensity attenuation, is becoming a well established technique for non-destructive 3D imaging, and is especially suited for heterogeneous and hierarchical materials. XRD patterns contain information about the mineral crystal structure, and crucially also crystallite orientation. Here, we report on the use of orientational imaging using XRD-CT to study crystallite-orientation distributions in a sample of Pierre shale. Diffraction-contrast CT data for a shale sample measured with its bedding-plane normal aligned parallel to a single tomographic axis perpendicular to the incoming X-ray beam are discussed, and the spatial density and orientation distribution of clay minerals in the sample are described. Finally, the scattering properties of highly attenuating inclusions in the shale bulk are studied, which are identified to contain pyrite and clinochlore. A path forward is then outlined for systematically improving the structural description of shales.