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Documenting mudstone heterogeneity by use of principal component analysis of X-ray diffraction and portable X-ray fluorescence data: A case study in the Triassic Shublik Formation, Alaska North Slope

December 1, 2017

Determining the chemical and mineralogical variability within fine-grained mudrocks poses analytical challenges but is potentially useful for documenting subtle stratigraphic differences in physicochemical environments that may influence petroleum reservoir properties and behavior. In this study, we investigate the utility of combining principal component analysis (PCA) of X-ray diffraction (XRD) data and portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) data to identify simplifying relationships within a large number of samples and subsequently evaluate a subset that encompasses the full spectrum or range of mineral and chemical variability within a vertical section. Samples were collected and analyzed from a vertical core of the Shublik Formation, a heterogeneous, phosphate-rich, calcareous mudstone-to-marl unit deposited in the Arctic Alaska Basin (AAB) during the Middle and Late Triassic. The Shublik is a major petroleum source rock in the Alaskan North Slope, and is considered a prime target for continuous self-sourced resource plays.