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Trends in thermal maturity indicators for the organic sulfur-rich Eagle Ford Shale

May 11, 2020

Thermal maturity is critical to evaluate petroleum systems and to interpret biomarker results for paleoenvironmental and geobiology studies. Many thermal maturity indices were developed for marine source rocks containing type II kerogen, but their behavior in organic sulfur-rich source rocks requires more investigation. Here, we present geochemical analyses of whole and extracted rock, isolated kerogens, and extractable organic matter across a natural thermal maturity transect of the Upper Cretaceous Eagle Ford Shale to evaluate the behavior of maturity parameters in organic sulfur-rich source rocks. The samples contain similar mineralogy and trace element composition, minimizing potential facies effects on thermal maturity parameters. Atomic H/C ratios of isolated kerogens, extractable organic matter yield, and programmed pyrolysis results show that the samples range from the pre-oil through dry gas generation windows. Programmed pyrolysis data and kerogen elemental ratios show that the immature samples host both type IIS (atomic Sorg/C > 0.04) and sulfur-rich type II kerogen (kerogen Sorg/C: 0.032 to 0.045) while the samples with lower kerogen Sorg/C ratios (kerogen Sorg/C < 0.03) are more mature. The vitrinite reflectance values corresponding to the onset of oil generation in the Eagle Ford are comparable to other type II petroleum systems. Likewise, the organic sulfur-rich Eagle Ford follows a similar hydrogen index and kerogen H/C trend as other marine type II source rocks. Hopane and sterane stereoisomer maturity ratios are anomalously elevated at low thermal maturities, so they should not be applied in organic sulfur-rich petroleum systems to infer thermal maturity. However, some biomarker ratios, including those that are more commonly used as source parameters, strongly track thermal maturity in this case study with limited facies variability.

Publication Year 2020
Title Trends in thermal maturity indicators for the organic sulfur-rich Eagle Ford Shale
DOI 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2020.104459
Authors Katherine L. French, Justin E. Birdwell, Michael Lewan
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine and Petroleum Geology
Index ID 70210389
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center