The stable isotopic compositions of diagenetic minerals can provide valuable constraints on the sources, precipitation temperatures and relative timing of cements in reservoir rocks. This type of information is essential when trying to understand and predict the distribution of cements in the subsurface, and their impact on reservoir quality. Conventional isotope methods contribute to answers to many diagenetic problems, but where core or time are scarce, or where good mineral separation is unobtainable, laser-based stable isotope methods offer several advantages. These include the ability to analyse carbonates, sulphides and anhydrite in situ with 50–100 μm resolution, simple and clear sample and analysis viewing optics, savings on sample preparation time and greatly reduced sample size requirements.
Diagenetic silicates such as quartz and clay cements cannot be analysed in situ by laser but, where in situ analysis of quartz δ18O is demanded, ion microprobe analysis can provide very high resolution (20–30 μm) capability with a precision of ±1%.