BRGM inaugurated its MIMAROC platform, which features a micro-tomography system. It can generate images of a wide range of geological samples, from the size of a hair to that of a drill core.
24 March 2023

On 24 March 2023, BRGM inaugurated MIMAROC, a new 4D tomography platform, at its Orléans site. The MIMAROC platform is used to generate images of the evolution of geo-materials, at the nanometric scale, under conditions representative of those existing in the subsurface. The experimental results are analysed using digital tools.

From 2D X-rays to micro-tomography, to visualise a geological object in 3D

In 1895, Wilhelm C. Röntgen discovered X-rays and took an X-ray of his wife's hand. More than a century later, this major discovery is still widely used and medical X-rays are still based on the same physical foundations.

While X-rays give 2D information, micro-tomography can visualise the 3D volume of an object. To do this, the object to be studied, which is placed between the X-ray source and the detector, undergoes an angular rotation (from 0 to 360°) during the recording. Images of the porosity (volume of voids), fracture networks, mineralization, fossils, etc., within a geological sample, can then be acquired.

MIMAROC is not simply a micro-tomography system, as the platform can also observe the behaviour of geological samples subjected to different thermo-hydro-mechanical and chemical conditions (THMC), in order to reproduce in the laboratory, the conditions generated by technologies used in the actual subsurface. The tests will be carried out in 4D (including the time dimension).

By coupling in-situ experiments and visualisation techniques, the platform can be used to characterise the evolution of geo-materials under stress and to assimilate the experimental results in modelling. The models can then be used to predict, for example, the evolution of stored underground energy or waste, or the re-injection of geothermal fluids into a reservoir.

The technology deployed on RX SOLUTIONS’ ULTRATOM CT system allows the observation of a wide range of samples from a few grams to a hundred kilos and from a few micrometres to a few decimetres in size.

Funded by the Loiret département, Orléans Métropole and BRGM, the MIMAROC platform is an integral part of the French academic context. In particular, it is connected:

  • on a national scale, to the EQUIPEX+ (investments for the future - PIA3) IMAGINE2 platform, a national imaging and analysis platform for the environmental and energy transition, of which BRGM is a partner,
  • locally, to the MACLE-CVL platform (microscope images, imagery and analytical resources in the Centre-Val de Loire region), of which BRGM is one of the supervising institutions.

MIMAROC responds to the needs of both academic and private sector players wishing to develop innovations or to investigate the platform's capabilities.