Generation characteristics of Mesozoic syn- and post-rift source rocks, Bonaparte Basin, Australia

new insights from compositional kinetic modelling

Soumaya Abbassi*, Simon C. George, Dianne S. Edwards, Rolando di Primio, Brian Horsfield, Herbert Volk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Potential source rocks on the Laminaria High, a region of the northern Bonaparte Basin on the North West Shelf of Australia, occur within the Middle Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous early to post-rift sequences. Twenty-two representative immature source rock samples from the Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous (Plover, Laminaria, Frigate, Flamingo and Echuca Shoals) sequences were analysed to define the hydrocarbon products that analogous mature source rocks could have generated during thermal maturation and filled the petroleum reservoirs in the Laminaria High region. Rock-Eval pyrolysis data indicate that all the source rocks contain type II-III organic matter and vary in organic richness and quality. Open system pyrolysis-gas chromatography on extracted rock samples show a dominance of aliphatic components in the pyrolysates. The Plover source rocks are the exception which exhibit high phenolic contents due totheir predominant land-plant contribution. Most of the kerogens have the potential to generate Paraffinic-Naphthenic-Aromatic oils with low wax contents. Bulk kinetic analyses reveal a relatively broad distribution of activation energies that are directly related to the heterogeneity in the kerogens. These kinetic parameters suggest different degrees of thermal stability, with the predicted commencement of petroleum generation under geological heating conditions covering a relatively broad temperature range from 95 to 135°C for the Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous source rocks. Both shales and coals of the Middle Jurassic Plover Formation have the potential to generate oil at relatively higher temperatures (140-145 °C) than those measured for crude oils in previous studies. Hence, the Frigate and the Flamingo formations are the main potential sources of oils reservoired in the Laminaria and Corallina fields. Apart from being a reservoir, the Laminaria Formation also contains organic-rich layers, with the potential to generate oil. For the majority of samples analysed, the compositional kinetic model predictions indicate that 80% of the hydrocarbons were generated as oil and 20% as gas. The exception is the Lower Cretaceous Echuca Shoals Formation which shows the potential to generate a greater proportion (40%) of gas despite its marine source affinity, due to inertinite dominating the maceral assemblage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-165
Number of pages18
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

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