Lake evolution and its influence on the formation of oil shales in the Middle Jurassic Shimengou Formation in the Tuanyushan area, Qaidam Basin, NW China

Li Li, ZhaoJun Liu, S. C. George, PingChang Sun, YinBo Xu, QingTao Meng, KeBing Wang, JunXian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The non-marine Qaidam Basin is a petroliferous basin in northwest China. The Tuanyushan area is located in the Saishiteng Depression in the northern Qaidam Basin. Coal and oil shales are widely developed in the Middle Jurassic Dameigou and Shimengou formations in this area where the sedimentary sequence and controls on coal accumulation have already been well documented. However, the geochemical characteristics of lacustrine fine-grained sediments, including lacustrine oil shales, in the shale member of the Shimengou Formation and the main controlling factors of the formation of the oil shales are ambiguous. This paper aims to reconstruct the lake evolution history during the Middle Jurassic period and reveal its influence on the formation of the oil shales in this area. Oil shales and fine-grained sediments were systematically sampled to determine their mineralogical and geochemical characteristics (major, trace and rare earth elements; stable carbon and oxygen isotopes). Based on lithological variations and total organic carbon (TOC) contents, a complete third-order sequence is identified and can be further divided into four system tracts (lowstand system tract, LST; transgressive system tract, TST; highstand system tract, HST and regressive system tract, RST) that correspond to four lake evolution stages (A–D). Changes in the lake level show an initial shallow lake, followed by a continuous upward deepening trend, followed by a shallowing trend. Shallow lake facies developed in the LST, TST and RST, whereas semi-deep to deep lake facies developed in the HST. Stable carbon and oxygen isotopes indicate that the Shimengou Lake was semi-closed to closed in the Middle Jurassic. Therefore, the water properties responded strongly to climate changes. According to elemental and mineralogical analyses, a moist climate prevailed, except during the early stages of the TST (stage B1) and HST (stage C1) when there was a semiarid climate. The semiarid climate influenced the water properties and detrital input and was the major controlling factor for the formation of the higher quality oil shales within a saline water environment. In comparison, under the moist climatic condition in the HST, the stable semi-deep to deep-water environment was the major controlling factor for the formation of lower quality oil shales within a fresh water environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-177
Number of pages16
JournalChemie der Erde - Geochemistry
Volume79
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Lake evolution
  • Oil shales
  • Geochemical characteristic
  • Tuanyushan area
  • Qaidam Basin

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