Exploring for Oil and Shale Gas Using NIR Spectroscopy

Using an NIR spectroradiometer or spectrometer provides an easy-to-use, rapid, and inexpensive tool for determining the mineralogy of samples in the field for identifying petroleum and gas bearing formations. The presence of oil and gas reservoir seepage is usually found at the surface through detection of trace concentration of gases (ethane or methane), mineral alteration of soils, or changes to the spectral response in vegetation.

Sites affected by hydrocarbon seepage can show mineral alteration in the formation of calcite, pyrite, uraninite, magnetic iron oxides, and sulfides, clay mineral alteration, and other anomalies. Vegetation can show an adverse effect from seepage in the amount of chlorophyll in leaves. Reflectance properties of vegetation in the VIS range are dominated by absorption at 660 and 680nm. Changes in chlorophyll concentration produce spectral shifts near 700nm (the red edge). The red edge shifts towards blue when chlorophyll is lost – an indicator for oil and gas.

The PSR+ delivers the following capabilities:

  • Spectral resolution 350—2500nm
  • UV/VIS/NIR full range, fast, one-touch scanning
  • Compact, lightweight and reliable with no moving parts
  • Autoexposure, autoscaling, and auto dark current shutter
  • Easy to set up anywhere
  • Long-term stability
  • DARWin SP Data Acquisition software captures spectra in ASCII format for use with third party software—no pre- processing required
  • EZ-ID software for rapid mineral identification in the field using the USGS and SpecMIn spectral libraries
  • Access through DARWIN to vegetation indices

Avoid the limitation and problems associated with sampling and analysis by using SPECTRAL EVOLUTION’s field spectroradiometers and spectrometers for fast, non- invasive/nondestructive research.


The PSR+ helps researchers bring the power and non-destructive measurement capabilities of spectroscopy to bear on the search for oil and gas deposits by scanning and analyzing soil and vegetation.

Mineral identification of Kaolinite using a PSR+ spectrometer with EZ-ID mineral identification software and the SpecMIN mineral spectra library. Clay mineral alteration of smectite to kaolinite can be an indicator of hydrocarbon presence in soil.