Spectro-mechanical Characterization of Aromaticity and Maturity of Kerogens in Oil Shale at 6 nm Spatial Resolution

<p>In situ measurements of the chemical compositions and mechanical properties of kerogen help understand the formation, transformation, and utilization of organic matter in the oil shale at the nanoscale. However, the optical diffraction limit prevents attainment of nanoscale resolution using conventional spectroscopy and microscopy. Here, we utilize peak force infrared (PFIR) microscopy for multimodal characterization of kerogen in oil shale. The PFIR provides correlative infrared imaging, mechanical mapping, and broadband infrared spectroscopy capability with 6 nm spatial resolution. We observed nanoscale heterogeneity in the chemical composition, aromaticity, and maturity of the kerogens from oil shales from Eagle Ford shale play in Texas. The kerogen aromaticity positively correlates with the local mechanical moduli of the surrounding inorganic matrix, manifesting the Le Chatelier’s principle. In situ spectro-mechanical characterization of oil shale will yield valuable insight for geochemical and geomechanical modeling on the origin and transformation of kerogen in the oil shale.</p>