Amthor, J.E., K. Ramseyer, A. Matter, T. Pettke and A.E. Fallick 2015. Diagenesis of a light, tight-oil chert reservoir at the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary, Sultanate of Oman. GeoArabia, v. 20, no. 2, p. 147-178.


The Al Shomou Silicilyte Member (Athel Formation) in the South Oman Salt Basin shares many of the characteristics of a light, tight-oil (LTO) reservoir: it is a prolifi c source rock mature for light oil, it produces light oil from a very tight matrix and reservoir, and hydraulic fracking technology is required to produce the oil. What is intriguing about the Al Shomou Silicilyte, and different from other LTO reservoirs, is its position related to the Precambrian/Cambrian Boundary (PCB) and the fact that it is a ‘laminated chert‘ rather than a shale. In an integrated diagenetic study we applied microstructural analyses (SEM, BSE) combined with state-of-the-art stable isotope and trace element analysis of the silicilyte matrix and fractures. Fluid inclusion microthermometry was applied to record the salinity and minimum trapping temperatures. The microstructural investigations reveal a fi ne lamination of the silicilyte matrix with a mean lamina thickness of ca. 20 μm consisting of predominantly organic matter-rich and fi nely crystalline quartz-rich layers, respectively. Authigenic, micron-sized idiomorphic quartz crystals are the main matrix components of the silicilyte. Other diagenetic phases are pyrite, apatite, dolomite, magnesite and barite cements. Porosity values based on neutron density logs and core plug data indicate porosity in the silicilyte ranges from less than 2% to almost to 40%. The majority of the pore space in the silicilyte is related to (primary) inter-crystalline pores, with locally important oversized secondary pores. Pore casts of the silica matrix show that pores are extremely irregular in three dimensions, and are generally interconnected by a complex web or meshwork of fi ne elongate pore throats. Mercury injection capillary data are in line with the microstructural observations suggesting two populations of pore throats, with an effective average modal diameter of 0.4 μm. The acquired geochemical data support the interpretation that the primary source of the silica is the ambient seawater rather than hydrothermal or biogenic. A maximum temperature of ca. 45°C for the formation of microcrystalline quartz in the silicilyte is good evidence that the lithifi cation and crystallization of quartz occurred in the fi rst 5 Ma after deposition. Several phases of brittle fracturing and mineralization occurred in response to salt tectonics during burial. The sequences of fracture-fi lling mineral phases (dolomite - layered chalcedony – quartz – apatite - magnesite I+II - barite – halite) indicates a complex fl uid evolution after silicilyte lithifi cation. Primary, all-liquid fl uid inclusions in the fracturefi lling quartz are good evidence of growth beginning at low temperatures, i.e. 50ºC. Continuous precipitation during increasing temperature and burial is documented by primary two-phase fl uid inclusions in quartz cements that show brines at 50°C and fi rst hydrocarbons at ca. 70°C. The absolute timing of each mineral phase can be constrained based on U-Pb geochronometry, and basin modelling. Secondary fl uid inclusions in quartz, magnesite and barite indicate reactivation of the fracture system after peak burial temperature during the major preserved micropores, not hydrocarbon storage in a fracture system. The absence of oil expulsion results in present-day high oil saturations. The main diagenetic modifi cations of the silicilyte occurred and were completed relatively early in its history, i.e. before 300 Ma. An instrumental factor for preserving matrix porosity is the diffi culty for a given slab to evacuate all the fl uids (water and hydrocarbons), or in other words, the very good sealing capacity of the salt embedding the slab.

MEGREF : 16311
Publication Year : 2015
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