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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 20, 2024
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    X-ray CT imaging provides a 3D view of a sample and is a powerful tool for investigating the internal features of porous rock. Reliable phase segmentation in these images is highly necessary but, like any other digital rock imaging technique, is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and subjective. Combining 3D X-ray CT imaging with machine learning methods that can simultaneously consider several extracted features in addition to color attenuation, is a promising and powerful method for reliable phase segmentation. Machine learning-based phase segmentation of X-ray CT images enables faster data collection and interpretation than traditional methods. This study investigates the performance of several filtering techniques with three machine learning methods and a deep learning method to assess the potential for reliable feature extraction and pixel-level phase segmentation of X-ray CT images. Features were first extracted from images using well-known filters and from the second convolutional layer of the pre-trained VGG16 architecture. Then, K-means clustering, Random Forest, and Feed Forward Artificial Neural Network methods, as well as the modified U-Net model, were applied to the extracted input features. The models’ performances were then compared and contrasted to determine the influence of the machine learning method and input features on reliable phase segmentation. The results showed considering more dimensionality has promising results and all classification algorithms result in high accuracy ranging from 0.87 to 0.94. Feature-based Random Forest demonstrated the best performance among the machine learning models, with an accuracy of 0.88 for Mancos and 0.94 for Marcellus. The U-Net model with the linear combination of focal and dice loss also performed well with an accuracy of 0.91 and 0.93 for Mancos and Marcellus, respectively. In general, considering more features provided promising and reliable segmentation results that are valuable for analyzing the composition of dense samples, such as shales, which are significant unconventional reservoirs in oil recovery. 
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