3D and 4D microscopy development of new powerful tools in geosciences
Microtomography (microCT) is becoming more and more widely recognized in geological sciences as a powerful tool for the spatial characterization of rock and other geological materials. Together with 3D image analysis and other complementary techniques, it has the characteristics of an innovative and non-destructive 3D microscopical technique. On the other hand its main disadvantages are low availability (only a few geological laboratories are equipped with high resolution tomographs), the relatively high prices of testing connected with the use of an x-ray source, technical limitations connected to the resolution and imaging of certain materials, as well as time-consuming and complex 3D image analysis, necessary for quantification of 3D tomographic data sets. The main goal of the present project is therefore to develop and establish protocols for optimal 3D microscopy including microCT imaging, 3D data analysis and complementary analysis, which would result in a more advanced and standardized method, which would be more easily available and applicable, and less time-consuming so cheaper. We will further develop protocols for 4D microscopy, i.e. dynamic structural processing (microCT imaging with simultaneous in-situ loading of the sample). Established protocols will be following: protocols for 3D pore analysis, data set coupling and multi-scale imaging, 3D mineralogical identification, the spatial imaging of low attenuation phases and geological materials in the presence of high attenuation phases, and dynamic microstructural processing. These protocols will be developed and demonstrated on the basis of studies of real geological samples and problems, such as the porosity of Alveolina-Nummulites limestone, crack formation in the Velenje lignite ore, and the fibre orientation and strength of high performance fibre reinforced concretes. Research will also be performed into possibilities of the use of 3D and 4D microscopy data in conventional geological modelling. The established protocols will thus directly help to solve complex geological and technical problems, and over the long term sustainability of the project impact will be ensured by the direct application of the developed protocols and know how to industry (e.g. the construction industry, primary resource industry, car production industry) and other fields of research (e.g. the development of smart sensors), as well by educating young people such as students of graduate and postgraduate programs in by transferring the latest findings and developments in the field of spatial characterization and image analysis of geological materials.
2016/01/01 - 2018/12/31
SRA - Slovenian Research Agency