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Book Chapter

The Photoelectric Index

January 01, 1994


The photoelectric index (Pe) is a supplementary measurement by the latest generation of density logging tools, and records the absorption of low-energy gamma rays by the formation in units of barns per electron. The logged value is a direct function of the aggregate atomic number (Z) of the elements in the formation, and so is a sensitive indicator of mineralogy. For any given element, the index is given by the formula:

This relationship and the fact that the value is only m ldly affected by pore volume magnitude or fluid/gas content, means that the index is an excellent indicator of mineralogy. Basic mineral reference values are : quartz 1.81 ; dolomite 3.14 ; calcite 5.08 barns/electron. The table of logging properties in the Appendix lists Pe values for a wide variety of minerals.

The photoelectric index log is commonly scaled on a range between 0 and 10 barns/electron, and a generalized interpretation guide is given in Figure 41. On this scale, minerals such as calcite, dolomite and quartz have narrowly defined expected values, with a minor downward drift at increasing porosities in their host lithologies. The variable compositions of coals and clay minerals means that their position on the scale should only be taken as a broad indication. The ordering of clay minerals on the index is almost entirely a function of their likely content of iron. Ellis (1987) pointed out that the index to be expected for clay minerals which are free of iron should be very similar to the value for quartz.

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SEPM Short Course Notes

Geological Log Interpretation

John H. Doveton
John H. Doveton
Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
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Publication date:
January 01, 1994




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