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Book Chapter

Amorphous and Crystalline Solids as Artifacts in SEM Images

Kitty L. Milliken
Kitty L. Milliken
Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, U.S.A. (e-mail:
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Terri Olson
Terri Olson
Digital Rock Petrophysics, Golden, Colorado, U.S.A. (e-mail:
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January 01, 2016


Minerals can precipitate in samples after coring and after preparation for scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging. Re-deposition of solids from ion milling also produces artifacts that can be observed in images. Both mineral precipitates and re-deposited solid mixtures can be obvious artifacts, but they can also be subtle and challenging to interpret as features that are not present in the subsurface. The most common mineral precipitates are hydrous calcium sulfate (gypsum or bassanite) and halite. Iron sulfate minerals are also commonly observed. These types of artifacts are illustrated, with examples from ion-milled, mechanically polished, and freshly broken surfaces of various sedimentary rocks. Recognition of these artifacts is important because they can reduce porosity and pore size in SEM images and can affect measurements of rock composition and interpretations of pore fluid chemistry.

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Figures & Tables


AAPG Memoir

Imaging Unconventional Reservoir Pore Systems

Terri Olson
Terri Olson
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2016



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