The promise of Image-Based Rock Physics (IBRP), often referred to as Digital Rock Physics, has been around since the 1950s when simple pore networks of nodes and connectors were analyzed with electrical resistor networks. The intervening 60+ years has produced significant developments in imaging and computational power to where IBRP is used to predict multiphase fluid flow in complex pore systems. 

IBRP has two roles in today’s Oil & Gas industry,

  1. As a Predictive tool in rocks that are difficult to measure in the lab,
  2. As an Evaluation tool for complex SCAL measurements where a series of numerical experiments that vary input parameters can be executed faster than comparable lab tests.



Comparison of Image Segmentation from “Uncertainty Quantification in Image Segmentation for Image-Based Rock Physics in a Shaly-Sandstone”  For Sample B, 4-micron resolution, 680x680x900 volume, slice 450. 

DigiM’s I2S software platform returns control of the IBRP process to the client by providing a state-of-the-art image segmentation tool based on Machine-Learning principles coupled with a series of simulation modules that capture a range of single- and multi-phase flow properties.

IBRP includes contributions from three separate disciplines:

  1. Images of the pore geometry at the required resolution to capture critical features,
  2. Image processing to segment the pore geometry from the rock matrix,
  3. Simulation of petrophysics properties, including single- and multi-phase transport phenomena.

In the DigiM I2S platform, the acquisition of images is returned to the client. DigiM can provide guidance on the best methods to use, but recognizes that the client often has more expertise on how to image their own samples. 

The ML-based image processing tool does reduce the amount of pre-processing of the image that is required before segmentation steps. Traditional image pre-processing of smoothing, filtering, edge enhancements are less important now as ML-based segmentation is much more robust and can overlook image defects. The ease in training the ML-segmentation tool allows the client real-time information on the quality of their segmentation setup. Multiple grain and pore types can be identified reliably with the result of capturing more what the users’ eyes observe in the images.


The I2S platform includes a suite of simulation modules that cover a range of petrophysical properties that include permeability, electrical and thermal conductivity, and basic characterization of the pore space such as pore size, capillary pressure, and tortuosity. 

The modules use standard algorithms and numerical solvers, but I2S returns control of the simulation to the clients. Input parameters are client-selected, which encourages numerical experimentation on the importance of individual contributors to the simulation results. 


  1. Capillary Fluid Dynamics within Unconventional Rocks Investigated by Scanning Electron Microscope, AAPG Bulletin, November 2017. (With ) AAPG Website Access. Request a preprint.
  2. DigiM is highlighted in Journal of Petroleum Technology 02 June 2017 article "Need a Faster Measure of Relative Permeability? Take a CT Scan and Follow With Digital Rock Analysis", by Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor.
  3. Application of integrated core and 3D image rock physics to characterize Niobrara chalk porosity, permeability, capillary pressure, and two- and three-phase relative permeability. Accepted to present and publish by URTec 2017. (With ) (Request a copy of abstract) (Request a copy of full paper) (Request the presentation)
  4. Primary and Secondary Organic Matter Habit in Unconventional Reservoirs, AAPG Memoir 102: Imaging Unconventional Reservoir Pore Systems. (With ) (Request a Copy)
  5. Study of Petrophysical Properties Using Nano-Scale Resolution Electron Microscopy and 3D to 2D Upscaling. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Vol. 16, 1–9, 2016. With (Request a Copy)
  6. Petrographic Features of Kerogen in Unconventional Shales and Their Effect on Hydrocarbon Petrophysics. Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 11–14 November 2012. SPE162612. With (Request a Copy)
  7. Upscaling of Heterogeneous Rock Properties via a Multiscale Image to Simulation Approach. Comsol Conference 2012, Boston, October 3-5, 2012. (With )
  8. Micron to millimeter upscale of shale rock properties based on 3D imaging and modeling. Society of Core Analysis 2012 Meeting, paper A20, Aberdeen, UK, August 26th - 31st, 2012. (With ) (Request a Copy)
  9. Capillary Condensation and NMR Relaxation Time in Unconventional Shale Hydrocarbon Resources SPWLA 53rd Annual Logging Symposium, June 16-20, 2012. With (Request a Copy)
  10. Measurements of Porosity and permeability analysis on nanoscale FIB-SEM tomography of shale rock. ExxonMobil 2012 Unconventional Summit, Houston, USA, February 25-27, 2012. (With and  IOL Calgary)
  11. Porosity types and sizes in Shales, Measurements of Porosity and permeability analysis on nanoscale FIB-SEM tomography of mudstones. ExxonMobil 2012 Summit, Houston, USA, February 25-27, 2012. (With )
  12. Poromechanics Investigation at Pore-scale Using Digital Rock Physics Laboratory. Multiphysics I Session, Comsol Conference 2011 Proceedings, Boston, MA, October 13-15, 2011. (With )
  13. Porosity and permeability analysis on nanoscale FIB-SEM tomography of shale rock. Society of Core Analysis 2011 Meeting, paper A30, Austin, Texas, September 18th - 21st, 2011. (With ). (Request a Copy)
  14. Poromechanics from Volume Averaging: Lining pore-scale physics to macro-scale. Society of Exploration Geophysicists 2011 Annual Meeting.W-4: From Image to Insight: How Can We Leverage Pore-Scale Observations Through Rock Physics Models. San Antonio, September 18-23, 2011. (With )
  15. A virtual material studio to study rock petrophysical properties. The 11th International Conference on  Magnetic Resonance Microscopy (ICMRM)/Joint Topic Conference on NMR in Well Logging and Core Analysis, August 14-18, 2011, Beijing, China. 2011-08 ICMRM; MRI Digital Rock Physics. (With University of Alberta)
  16. The Analysis and Simulation of Rock Properties Using FIB-SEM and Virtual Material Studio. NAFEMS World Congress 2011, Boston, USA, May 22-26, 2011. (With ) (Request a Copy)
  17. Analysis and Simulation of Rock Properties. Edward Brown (Editor). Comsol News 2011, p58-59, May 2011. (Interview)