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Kerogen variation in a Devonian half graben system

Kerogen variation in a Devonian half graben system
Kerogen variation in a Devonian half graben system
The Middle Devonian Rousay Flagstone Formation of Orkney is a 200m thick lacustrine succession that contains abundant preserved organic matter. It was deposited into a series of half graben formed by the collapse of over-thickened Caledonian crust. The 14 lake cycles that comprise the Rousay Flagstone Formation (RFF) were correlated across Orkney during 6 months of fieldwork. Two of the lake cycles were sampled in detail for geochemical analysis. This work has enabled an understanding of the sedimentary and tectonic processes that controlled the distribution of facies and the quality of source rocks within the Orcadian Basin during this time. The processes and environments present in Orkney during this time may be compared to the Horton Group in Nova Scotia (Hamblin & Rust 1989).

The main finding of this research has been the extent to which the East Scapa Fault (ESF) caused variation in sedimentation. By slowly extending throughout the RFF, the half graben bounding fault caused certain areas of Orkney to experience continued relative uplift.

Two aspects of the structure of the half graben were of greatest influence. Firstly the uplifted footwall of the half graben provided an environment away from the influence of inflowing sediment and oxygen rich turbidity currents. The quiescent environment in this area allowed the greatest amount of laminite facies accumulation. It was found that high TOC (total organic carbon), H/C (hydrogen/carbon ratio) and spore numbers were associated with these areas of enhanced laminite deposition.

The second area was a transfer zone located at the northern splay of the ESF. The zone acted as a linkage zone between the ESF and a half graben to the north. Because of its location between adjacent half graben depocentres, sedimentation was affected by the relative uplift of the area in a manner similar to the uplifted footwall area to the west of the ESF.

The main agents that were detrimental to the formation of source rocks were turbidity currents. These currents originated from the three main areas of alluvial fan input in the basin. Turbidity currents carrying sediment and oxygenated water from these fans would bypass the shallower and more uplifted areas and preferentially deposit in the more distal and downthrown areas. The area immediately to the east of the ESF was the main location to have experienced reduction in kerogen quality (TOC, H/C and spore numbers) because of turbidite deposition.

The preserved organic matter is predominantly composed of amorphous organic matter, making the main kerogen type Type I. About 40% of each Rousay Flagstone Formation lake cycle contains measurable organic matter, on average about 0.8%. The amount of organic matter is controlled by facies type, with laminite facies having the highest average TOC (1.55%) and grey silts having least (0.3%).

Exinite reflectivity and spore colour variation analyses from across Orkney indicate that the thermal maturity of the sediments is within the thermal range of hydrocarbon generation. Additionally the uniform spread of maturity values across Orkney indicates that fault movement was never great enough to cause differential thermal maturity regimes to form across Orkney.
Speed, Reuben Guthrie
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Speed, Reuben Guthrie
7dcd733e-6ec8-48a9-8515-5b687b53514e
Marshall, John
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Astin, Tim
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Speed, Reuben Guthrie (1999) Kerogen variation in a Devonian half graben system. University of Southampton, Department of Geology, Doctoral Thesis, 226pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The Middle Devonian Rousay Flagstone Formation of Orkney is a 200m thick lacustrine succession that contains abundant preserved organic matter. It was deposited into a series of half graben formed by the collapse of over-thickened Caledonian crust. The 14 lake cycles that comprise the Rousay Flagstone Formation (RFF) were correlated across Orkney during 6 months of fieldwork. Two of the lake cycles were sampled in detail for geochemical analysis. This work has enabled an understanding of the sedimentary and tectonic processes that controlled the distribution of facies and the quality of source rocks within the Orcadian Basin during this time. The processes and environments present in Orkney during this time may be compared to the Horton Group in Nova Scotia (Hamblin & Rust 1989).

The main finding of this research has been the extent to which the East Scapa Fault (ESF) caused variation in sedimentation. By slowly extending throughout the RFF, the half graben bounding fault caused certain areas of Orkney to experience continued relative uplift.

Two aspects of the structure of the half graben were of greatest influence. Firstly the uplifted footwall of the half graben provided an environment away from the influence of inflowing sediment and oxygen rich turbidity currents. The quiescent environment in this area allowed the greatest amount of laminite facies accumulation. It was found that high TOC (total organic carbon), H/C (hydrogen/carbon ratio) and spore numbers were associated with these areas of enhanced laminite deposition.

The second area was a transfer zone located at the northern splay of the ESF. The zone acted as a linkage zone between the ESF and a half graben to the north. Because of its location between adjacent half graben depocentres, sedimentation was affected by the relative uplift of the area in a manner similar to the uplifted footwall area to the west of the ESF.

The main agents that were detrimental to the formation of source rocks were turbidity currents. These currents originated from the three main areas of alluvial fan input in the basin. Turbidity currents carrying sediment and oxygenated water from these fans would bypass the shallower and more uplifted areas and preferentially deposit in the more distal and downthrown areas. The area immediately to the east of the ESF was the main location to have experienced reduction in kerogen quality (TOC, H/C and spore numbers) because of turbidite deposition.

The preserved organic matter is predominantly composed of amorphous organic matter, making the main kerogen type Type I. About 40% of each Rousay Flagstone Formation lake cycle contains measurable organic matter, on average about 0.8%. The amount of organic matter is controlled by facies type, with laminite facies having the highest average TOC (1.55%) and grey silts having least (0.3%).

Exinite reflectivity and spore colour variation analyses from across Orkney indicate that the thermal maturity of the sediments is within the thermal range of hydrocarbon generation. Additionally the uniform spread of maturity values across Orkney indicates that fault movement was never great enough to cause differential thermal maturity regimes to form across Orkney.

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Published date: February 1999
Additional Information: Digitized via the E-THOS exercise
Organisations: University of Southampton

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 43788
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/43788
PURE UUID: da65446b-2ede-4589-babe-dee662064cdd
ORCID for John Marshall: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9242-3646

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 31 Jan 2007
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:56

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