Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine Geology and Geophysics (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Gregor P. Eberli

Second Committee Member

Keir Becker

Third Committee Member

Guoqing Lin

Fourth Committee Member

Ralf J. Weger

Fifth Committee Member

Klaas Verwer


Carbonate rocks are known to have complex and heterogeneous pore structures, which result from their biogenic origin and strong affinity for diagenetic processes that change their pore structure after burial. The combination of sheer endless variations of precursor biogenic material, depositional environments, and diagenetic effects results in rocks that are interesting to study but intricate to understand. Many schemes to categorize the diversity of carbonate rocks are in use today; most are based on the macropore structure and qualitative thin-section analysis. Many studies, however, acknowledge that micropores have a significant influence on the macroscopic petrophysical rock properties, which are essential to determine reservoir quality. Micropores are, by definition, smaller than the thickness of a thin-section (< 30 μm) and hence cannot be quantified with conventional methods. For their analysis, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is the logical next step. The challenge is that mechanical polishing methods produce excessive surface roughness at micron scale; the resulting surfaces are not suited for quantification of micropores. Advances in broad-ion-beam (BIB) milling enable preparation of nanometer-precision 2D sections that are suited for quantitative analysis with the SEM. To accomplish the objective of accurate quantification of carbonate micropores, part one of this dissertation employs the BIB-SEM technique on a variety of carbonate rock samples and finds four major carbonate microporosity types: (1) small intercrystalline, (2) large inter- crystalline, (3) intercement, and (4) micromoldic. Each microporosity type shows a distinct capacity to conduct electrical charge, which largely controls the magnitude and range of cementation factors (m) in rocks with such microporosity type. The BIB-SEM method is also used on a dataset of mixed carbonate-siliciclastic (mudrock) samples with high kerogen and pyrite content. Results show that the nanopore geometry here has little influence on cementation factors, and instead porosity is the main control on m in mudrocks. Cementation factors are crucial for estimates of oil-in-place and water saturation in a wireline application, and a slight change of (assumed) cementation factor can change the interpreter’s evaluation from dry hole to discovery. Therefore, accurate determination of cementation factors is a critical task in formation evaluation, similar to accurate estimates of permeability. To achieve this goal, this dissertation utilizes a new approach of using complex resistivity spectra (CRS) to assess the pore geometry and its resulting electrical and fluid flow properties. Specifically, frequency dispersion of complex resistivity in the kHz range is used as input for a new model to predict cementation factor and permeability in a wide variety of core plug samples. The underlying concept that relates CRS to flow properties is that both are related to pore geometry. CRS are linked to pore geometry by interfacial polarization effects at the fluid-rock boundary that control the phase and amplitude shift of an applied alternating current. Larger interfacial area results in higher phase shifts, but also indicates a more intricate pore structure that often results in lower permeability and higher cementation factors. The findings from this dissertation imply that (1) the CRS prediction method greatly improves estimates of cementation factors and permeability in carbonate, dolomite, and mixed siliciclastic rocks, (2) there are at least four distinct microporosity types in carbonate rocks, which have great impact on cementation factors and permeability, (3) nanopore geometry has a small impact on electrical flow properties in mudrocks where the main control on cementation factors is porosity, and (4) all sedimentary limestone and mixed carbonate-siliciclastic rocks have power law pore size distributions.


Carbonates; Electrical resistivity; Cementation factors; Pore geometry; Broad-ion-beam milling; Dielectric