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Open AccessArticle

Mineral Precipitation in Fractures and Nanopores within Shale Imaged Using Time-Lapse X-ray Tomography

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Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Chemnitzer Str. 40, 09599 Freiberg, Germany
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Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility, School of Materials, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
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School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
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Diamond Light Source Ltd, Harwell Science & Innovation Campus Didcot, Didcot OX11 0DE, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2019, 9(8), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9080480
Received: 18 June 2019 / Revised: 2 August 2019 / Accepted: 6 August 2019 / Published: 7 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Mineral Geochemistry and Geochronology)
Barite precipitation in fractures and nanopores within a shale sample is analysed in situ, in 3D, and over time. Diffusion of barium and sulphate from opposite sides of the sample creates a supersaturated zone where barium sulphate crystals precipitate. Time-lapse synchrotron-based computed tomography was used to track the growth of precipitates over time, even within the shale’s matrix where the nanopores are much smaller than the resolution of the technique. We observed that the kinetics of precipitation is limited by the type and size of the confinement where crystals are growing, i.e., nanopores and fractures. This has a major impact on the ion transport at the growth front, which determines the extent of precipitation within wider fractures (fast and localised precipitation), thinner fractures (non-localised and slowing precipitation) and nanopores (precipitation spread as a front moving at an approximately constant velocity of 10 ± 3 µm/h). A general sequence of events during precipitation in rocks containing pores and fractures of different sizes is proposed and its possible implications to earth sciences and subsurface engineering, e.g., fracking and mineral sequestration, are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: time-lapse imaging; 3D imaging; shale; barite; mineral precipitation; scale; formation damage; porous media; fracking time-lapse imaging; 3D imaging; shale; barite; mineral precipitation; scale; formation damage; porous media; fracking
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Godinho, J.R.A.; Ma, L.; Chai, Y.; Storm, M.; Burnett, T.L. Mineral Precipitation in Fractures and Nanopores within Shale Imaged Using Time-Lapse X-ray Tomography. Minerals 2019, 9, 480.

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