Chemical equilibria and fluid flow during compaction diagenesis of organic-rich geopressured sediments.
AuthorCapuano, Regina Marie.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe effects of geopressuring and kerogen decomposition on mineral-fluid equilibria were calculated in order to predict the diagenetic-alteration mineralogy produced in equilibrium with kerogen-rich, geopressured sediments. These calculations indicate that several processes specific to kerogen-rich geopressured sediments contribute to the development of a characteristic alteration mineralogy. These processes are: (1) the upward flow of fluids in geopressured sediments, in contrast to the generally downward flow of fluids in normally-pressured sediments; (2) the coincidence of the depths of geopressuring (2-3 km; Fertl et al., 1976), with the geothermal temperatures necessary for CO₂ release (100°-135°C; Hunt, 1979), and CH₄ release (>90°C; Hunt, 1979); and (3) the opposing rates of sediment burial and CO₂ and CH₄ transfer into the upward-flowing fluids, which result in the geopressured pore fluids becoming enriched, and in some cases saturated, with respect to CO₂ and CH₄. Three patterns of mineral deposition during diagenesis of kerogen-rich geopressured sediments are predicted. Quartz deposition should occur at the top of the geopressured zone and decrease rapidly with increased depth as a result of the decreased flux of upward fluid flow with increased depth. Carbonate deposition should occur above the zone of CO₂ release from kerogen degradation as a result of the upward flux of CO₂ saturated fluids and subsequent decreases in fluid temperature, pressure and CO₂ solubility. Kaolinite-carbonate could deposit within and above the zone of CO₂ release from kerogen as a result of silicate dissolution by CO₂-rich acid pore fluids, followed by the potential for albite-carbonate deposition upon CO₂ depletion. In contrast, laumontite and anhydrite should not deposit during diagenesis of kerogen-rich geopressured sediments, but could deposit during diagenesis of normally-pressured or kerogen-poor geopressured sediments. An additional difference between these diagenetic environments is that quartz deposition would not be expected in normally-pressured sediments in which fluids are expected to be flowing downward. These mineralogic relationships compare favorably with observed relationships in the kerogen-rich geopressured sandstones of the Frio formation from the Texas Gulf Coast.