Standard X-ray CT System (XCT)

XCT: Standard X-ray CT System

The Geotek XCT system acquires both 2D X-ray transmission images and 3D X-ray CT volumes from lined whole core, split core, or slabbed core sections. Automated rotation of lined core sections allows users to visualise and record three-dimensional structures within the cores. These rotational images are used for computed tomographic (CT) reconstructions. X-ray CT imaging provides valuable quantitative data as well as information about core quality for sub-sampling or further analyses.

Affordable Icon
  • X-ray system that is affordable, practical and built specifically for geological applications
Container Icon
  • Small footprint cabinet-based X-ray system with optional CT capability that can be installed into a containerised lab
Full Width Icon
  • Full-width 2D core radiography and 3D CT for whole and split cores, with adjustable geometry to optimise resolution for small and large core samples
SImple User Interface Icon
  • Simple user interface to enable geoscientists or laboratory technicians to quickly and easily set-up and acquire the best quality data
Multi-angle Icon
  • Fast (<5 mins per m) multi-angle 2D radiographs to quickly visualise 3D features and select appropriate angle for core splitting
Cost Icon
  • Economical and long life sealed 130 kv X-ray source for excellent reliability and low running costs


The X-ray source and detector positions are adjustable and can be optimised for image quality, resolution and core size. Whole cores are centralised by wirelessly controlled motorised arms that securely hold core samples horizontally. This innovative method allows for quick and efficient core loading for rapid scanning; perfect for field based studies or large core logging projects. Split cores and slabbed rock can also be imaged using the mechanical arms and for weak liner the system can quickly be adapted with a plastic tube to support the core. Core sections up to 155 cm in length and 15 cm in diameter can be inserted into the Geotek XCT system.

Core Size

Core Diameter (cm)

Approximate Maximum Achievable Resolution (microns)























X-ray CT without a shielded room! The system is fully shielded and enclosed, compliant with USA & EU regulations, allowing it to be used in any normal laboratory environment. Warning lights indicate when the system is energised, and safety interlocks ensure that the X-ray source cannot be energised whenever doors are opened.

XCT system installed into ISO 20ft container lab for offshore field projects
XCT system installed into ISO 20ft container lab for offshore field projects


Data are acquired in a continuous motion from the 16-bit detector and are output to the user as 16-bit grayscale TIFF images with a typical resolution of between 30 and 150 microns; these images can easily be converted, using Geotek software, to JPEG or other formats


Once the core is loaded, scanning of the core (both linear and rotational scans) is fully automatic. The user simply enters all the image views required into a queue. Alternatively, the user may manipulate the core under the X-ray beam, using linear and rotational controls, while examining images on a real-time display before deciding which images to acquire.


There are many image analysis and core volume studies that will require a full 3D volume. The XCT is capable of acquiring 3D X-ray CT volumes at the resolution ranges mentioned in the table above. As part of the CT package Geotek provides software to reconstruct and view the core slices, generate orthogonal and circumferential images, and generate movies that fly through the core. The CT data from the Geotek system are exported as stacked 16-bit tiff files that can be loaded into the majority of CT viewing and image analysis packages.

3D reconstruction of hand specimen at 28 micron resolution. Sample courtesy of the National Geological Repository, British Geological Survey
3D reconstruction of hand specimen at 28 micron resolution. Sample courtesy of the National Geological Repository, British Geological Survey

3D from 2D: Geotek’s Laminography Technology

Geotek has developed a new image analysis feature called laminography.  Laminography reconstructs 2D scans to extract a sequence of ‘slabs’ at increasing depths cross-core (with the depth direction being along the source-to-detector axis).  This is akin to optical imaging where features within each slab are brought into focus, with other features being blurred out as you move through the ‘slabs’.  Each slab will be associated with a depth and therefore it will be possible to ascertain the depth and size of gravels, IRDs or shells within the core. See our Geoscience Research Application Page for more information.

How can X-ray CT benefit you?

Dr Tom Bradwell of the University of Stirling used Geotek’s XCT to collect high resolution (c.70 micron/pixel) X-ray images of glacial sediments. These X-ray images were crucial to enabling the identification of shells useful for the age dating of sediments and gravels that fell from icebergs and ice sheets thousands of years ago. You can read the full article here.


The example shows a comparison between a linescan image and a whole core X-ray image of a 30 cm piston core. The visual image shows a basal sand with overlying clay with a graded contact between the two units. However, the X-ray radiograph reveals a very closely spaced thinly laminated sand with a sharp top contact followed by a mixed sand/clay unit that grades into the overlying clay. Only the X-ray image can determine the sedimentological architecture of this core and without these data an incorrect depositional environment may be concluded.

  • Specifications

    • X-ray source: 65 W Thermo Kevex Microfocus
    • Voltage Range: 45 kV to 130 kV
    • X-ray Spot Size Range: 50 um to 100 um
    • Detector: 1920 x 1536 pixel flat panel detector
    • Image Resolution Range: 40 um to 300 um
    • Size: 4950 mm x 620 mm x 1980 mm (L x W x H)
    • Weight: c. 1500 kg
    • Utilities: 100 v to 240 v, single phase, 50-60 hz
    • Cooling: None
    • Cores Dimensions: Diameter – up to 15 cm, Length – up to 155 cm in length
    • Output: 16-bit Tiffs for 2D deliverables and 16-bit Tiff stack with automated report generation for CT deliverables
    • Core Loading: Bluetooth-controlled Push-Me-Pull-You motorised arms
    • Fully automated motion: Linear precision: 0.01 mm. Angular precision: 0.01 degrees
    • Rotation Method: Horizontal core rotation
    • CT Reconstruction: Cone beam with volume stitching

For further information please contact us.