Thermal maturity of the Upper Triassic-Middle Jurassic Shemshak Group (Alborz Range, Northern Iran) based on organic petrography, geochemistry and basin modelling: implications for source rock evaluation and petroleum exploration.

Abstract : Organic petrography and geochemical analyses have been carried out on the shales, carbonaceous shales and coals of the Shemshak Group (Upper Triassic-Middle Jurassic) from fifteen localities along the Alborz Range of Northern Iran. Organic matter (OM) has been investigated using Rock-Eval pyrolysis, elemental analysis of kerogen, vitrinite reflectance (VRr) and Thermal Alteration Index (TAI). Reflectance of autochthonous vitrinite varies from 0.6 to 2.2 % indicating thermally early mature to over mature OM in the Shemshak Group, in agreement with other maturity parameters used. The shales of the Shemshak Group are characterized by poor to moderate residual organic carbon contents (0.25 to 8.5 %) and the presence of hydrogen-depleted OM, predominantly as a consequence of petroleum generation and of oxidation of OM. According to light-reflected microscopy results vitrinite/vitrinite-like macerals are dominant in the kerogens concentrated from the shaly facies. The coals and carbonaceous shales of the Shemshak Group show a wide range in organic carbon concentration (3.5 to 88.6 %) and composition (inertinite- and vitrinite-rich types), and thereby different petroleum potentials. Among the studied sections only the coals and carbonaceous shales of the Hive locality show good residual petroleum potential and may still generate oil. Thermal modelling results suggest that low to moderate paleo-heat flow, ranging from 47 to 79 mW.m-2 (57 mW.m-2 on average), affected the Central-Eastern Alborz. The maximum temperature which induced OM maturation of the Shemshak Group seems to be related to its deep burial rather than to a very strong heat flow related to an uppermost Triassic-Liassic rifting. The interval of petroleum generation in the most deeply buried part of the Shemshak Group (i.e., Tazareh section) corresponds to Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous times. Exhumation of the Alborz Range during Late Neogene time, especially along the axis of the Central-Eastern Alborz, where maxima of VRr values are recorded, probably destroyed possible petroleum accumulations. However on the northern flank of the Central-Eastern Alborz, preservation of petroleum accumulations may be better. The northern part of the basin therefore seems the best target for petroleum exploration.
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Ali Shekarifard, François Baudin, Kazem Seyed-Emami, Johann Schnyder, Fatima Laggoun-Défarge, et al.. Thermal maturity of the Upper Triassic-Middle Jurassic Shemshak Group (Alborz Range, Northern Iran) based on organic petrography, geochemistry and basin modelling: implications for source rock evaluation and petroleum exploration.. Geological Magazine, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2012, 149, pp.19-38. ⟨10.1017/S0016756811000161⟩. ⟨insu-00420242⟩

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