X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning is a non-destructive technique that reveals detailed 3-D structures that cannot be identified by visualization or 2-D X-ray radiography. Industrial CT systems offer great versatility and advantages in analyzing large or dense materials, such as mineral containing potash, with high X-ray attenuation, while providing significantly higher spatial and contrast resolution than common scanning techniques. Characterizing geomaterials, including potash ores, is one of the many applications of industrial CT systems.

Because the CT imagery represented by grey-level values is closely related to the density of scanned objects, it’s possible to distinguish different minerals with enough density contrast, e.g., halite from sylvite. With advanced image analysis of the CT scanning imagery, much compositional, structural and textural properties are quantitatively extracted and mapped in 3-D to obtain valuable information about the sample. This information can be combined with the data from the other tests (e.g., XRD, QEMSCAN) to form a unique dataset that can help to characterize the formation and optimize the extraction process for potash and other minerals.

At spatial resolution of 30 microns for common 1.5-inch-diameter core plugs, features such as small sedimentary structures, natural/induced fractures and bioturbations can be easily identified. In this presentation, you’ll learn why this high-resolution digital core is a valuable input for subsequent studies in geoscience and mineral processing, as well as petroleum engineering.