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Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has revolutionized our understanding of shale petroleum systems through microstructural characterization of dispersed organic matter (OM). However, as a result of the low atomic weight of carbon, all OM appears black in SEM (BSE [backscattered electron] image) regardless of differences in thermal maturity or OM type (kerogen types or solid bitumen). Traditional petrographic identification of OM uses optical microscopy, where reflectance (%Ro), form, relief, and fluorescence can be used to discern OM types and thermal maturation stage. Unfortunately, most SEM studies of shale OM do not employ correlative optical techniques, leading to misidentifications...

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