Investigation of microstructures in naturally and experimentally deformed reference clay rocks using innovative methods in scanning electron microscopy

Guillaume Desbois, Susanne Hemes, Ben Laurich, M.E. Houben, J. Klaver, N. Hohne, Janos L. Urai, G. Viggiani, P. Bésuelle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The application of ion-beam milling techniques to clays allows investigation of the porosity at nm resolution using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Imaging of pores by SEM of surfaces prepared by broad ion beam (BIB) gives both qualitative and quantitative insights into the porosity and mineral fabrics in 2D representative cross-sections. The combination of cryogenic techniques with ion-beam milling preparation (BIB and FIB, focused ion beam) allows the study of pore fluids in preserved clay-rich samples. Characterization of the pore network is achieved, first, using X-ray computed tomography to provide insights into the largest pore bodies only, which are generally not connected at the resolution achieved. Secondly, access to 3D pore connectivity is achieved by FIB-SEM tomography and the results are compared with 2D porosity analysis (BIBSEM)
and correlated with bulk porosity measurements (e.g. mercury injection porosimetry, MIP). Effective pore connectivity was investigated with an analog of MIP based on Wood’s metal (WM), which is solid at room temperature and allows microstructural investigation of WM-filled pores with BIB-SEM after injection. Combination of these microstructural investigations at scales of ,1 mm with conventional stressstrain data, and strain localization characterized by strain-fields measurement (DIC – digital image correlation) on the same sample offers a unique opportunity to answer the fundamental questions: (1) when, (2) where, and (3) how the sample was deformed in the laboratory. All the methods above were combined to study the microstructures in naturally and experimentally deformed argillites. Preliminary results are promising and leading toward better understanding of the deformation behavior displayed by argillites in the transition between rocks and soils.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFilling the Gaps - from Microscopic Pore Structures to Transport Properties in Shales
EditorsThorsten Schäfer, Reiner Dohrmann, H.C. Greenwell
PublisherThe Clay Minerals Society
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-881208-46-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameCMS Workshop Lectures
PublisherThe Clay Minerals Society


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