Understanding and prediction of hydrocarbon transport within the matrix of unconventional tight reservoirs demands an integrated imaging strategy spanning from the smallest nanoscale pores to plug scale and beyond. Recent developments in multi-scale imaging are presented for Barnett shale samples to illustrate this approach to upscaling. The utility of micro-CT imaging for shales can be extended by X-ray contrast enhancement techniques coupled with tomogram registration. In particular, saturation of a shale plug with a highly attenuating liquid and subtraction of this tomogram from the registered dry-state tomogram yields a 3D voxel map of connected porosity over the plug. The same procedure can be applied to sub-plugs sampled from the parent plug to capture micron-scale variations in porosity. This approach does not directly provide the size, shape and connectivity of individual pores, since the vast majority of shale pores remain below tomogram resolution even for small sub-plugs. Two approaches to access this higher-order information are addressed. The first uses the state of the shale sub-plug saturated with X-ray dense liquid as the starting point for dynamic micro-CT imaging of the diffusion of a second, miscible, X-ray transparent liquid into the sub-plug. This can reveal the presence of faster pathways of transport through pores of larger size or lower tortuosity. The second approach involves broad beam ion-milling of the sub-plug for acquisition of 2D BSEM image mosaics and mineral maps, and their registration into the corresponding section of the 3D tomograms. This provides a registered basis for upscaling of transport properties, e.g. simulated from small FIB-SEM cubes, to sub-plug and in turn to plug via their micro-CT porosity maps. Very high resolution SEM imaging of broken surfaces can provide useful complementary information as to the finest scale of organic-hosted nanopores. The Barnett shale samples exhibited fairly homogeneous distributions of porosity on the plug and sub-plug scales, and also displayed relatively uniform diffusion across the sub-plug, suggesting that they are amenable to characterization and upscaling using only a limited set of parameters. This homogeneity is thought to be due in significant part to the predominance of organic-hosted porosity and to the structural uniformity of these nano-scale organic pore networks.

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