Micro-CT in Geology

Micro-CT (also known as XRM or X-Ray Microscopy) is a non-destructive 3D imaging and analysis technique, for studying the internal structure of all types of samples, with diameters from 1 mm to 20cm and full drill cores. Take virtual slices through objects and build stacks for 3D volume rendering.

Left: 3D mineral distribution of gold deposits.

Gold deposit - ore geology

See inside your sample with non-destructive 3D X-ray imaging


Micro-CT is used in all areas of geology including:

  • Porosity
  • Micro-structure
  • Composition
  • 3D mineral distribution
  • 3D analysis of shape and morphometries, including grains, sedimentary patterns, fossils, etc
  • Multi-scale analysis
  • Dynamic processes eg weathering, movement of fluids, crystallisation

All fields of geoscience:

  • Oil and gas
  • Sedimentology
  • Structural geology
  • Construction materials
  • Geochemistry
  • Paleontology

Scanning a sample with the Bruker SkyScan 2214

Drill Core
Carbonate drill core (200 mm long ) with a section removed virtually. 3072 x 3072 x 9783 pixels; 13 µm isotropic resolution. Scanned with the Bruker SkyScan 1273.
Measuring porosity with micro-CT
Analysing porosity: measure the size of closed pores and the thickness of open pore networks.
Time-lapse 4D micro-CT
Volume render of Bentheim sandstone with salt crust over half the sample.
Micro-CT Scan of Sandstone
Volume rendering of Vosges sandstone. Connected pore space from top to bottom was selected using the primitive ROI and ROI shrink-wrap plug-ins. Colour-coded by local thickness. Scanned with the Bruker SkyScan 2214 nano-CT (1.10 μm image pixel size).

Bruker Shrink-Wrap Micro-CT Plug-in

Select Complex Regions of Interest

ROIs are rarely regular, especially in rock samples. Bruker’s micro-CT software has powerful features for making selections and extracting the data you need.

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Measure Grains Individually

With Bruker’s watershed separation algorithm, you can analyse grains and particles individually, even if they’re closely packed.

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Watershed Separation

Real-time 4D micro-CT

Observe Dynamic Processes

Image dynamic processes with step-by-step timelapse and in real time methods. This is known as 4D micro-CT.

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Multiscale Analysis

Extract and combine information from various length scales to quantify and model the overall sample behaviour.

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Multiscale micro-ct

Complementary Technologies

The data acquired from X-Ray Microscopy adds value to other analytical techniques, including micro-XRFXRD and optical / electron microscopy. Data can be overlaid to create 3D mineral maps and more.

Drill core analysis
Drill core scanned with the Bruker SkyScan 1275 micro-CT and the Bruker M4 TORNADO micro-XRF to produce an element map. The data was overlaid for 3D alignment of both imaging modalities.
Drill core analysis with micro-XRF & micro-CT
3D alignment of micro-CT and micro-XRF on a drill core.

4mm Chalk Sample

Rock cross-section
Cross-section of Bentheim sandstone showing the evolution of the salt crust, in 4 cycles of saturation with salt liquid and drying at atmospheric conditions.

Nano-CT image of shale
Shale scanned at 6.2 μm voxel size with the Bruker SkyScan 2214. Volume rendered 3D model with color coded local thickness of the pores.


Bruker SkyScan 1275 Micro-CT

Bruker SkyScan 1275

Automated, benchtop micro-CT with self-optimising features, so you can scan at the press of a button. Extremely fast image reconstruction – a practical way to add micro-CT capabilities to your facility.

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SkyScan 2214 Nano-CT

Bruker SkyScan 2214

Multiscale nano-/micro-CT covering the widest range of resolutions. Sub-micron resolution and the world’s fastest hierarchical 3D reconstruction.

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Bruker SkyScan 1273

Bruker SkyScan 1273

Benchtop XRM scanner for large and/or heavy objects up to 20kg. Ideal for rock samples, drill cores, etc.

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