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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 44 (1960)

Issue: 7. (July)

First Page: 1253

Last Page: 1254

Title: Geochemical Investigations of Athabasca Oil Sands: ABSTRACT

Author(s): Bartholomew Nagy, George C. Gagnon

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Analyses were performed to evaluate the organic composition and the mineral content of the McMurray oil sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada. The samples came from the Abasand Quarry near McMurray and from three bore holes, drilled along a southwest-northeast cross section in the Fort MacKay and Bitumount area.

The bitumen content is related to the particle size of the rock. Impregnation is not restricted to one particular sediment type in the McMurray formation. For example, sandstone zones in the Bitumount core were found to contain as much as 17 per cent organic material soluble in methylene chloride; the bitumen content of the shale layers is lower. The elementary composition of the organic material was found to be uniform throughout the entire 246-foot section of the McMurray formation in the core. An organic sulphur content of approximately 5 per cent extends throughout the core. The aromatic character of the bitumen was shown by spectroscopic methods of analysis. The bitumen contains

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approximately the same amount of those hydrocarbons that may be recovered by n-heptane elution on silica gel columns.

The abundantly available Abasand samples were subjected to detailed analysis. These samples represent the lower portion of the McMurray formation, lying a few feet above the Devonian limestone. The bitumen was found to be a complex mixture of hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon compounds; the character of a few of which can be indicated. The bitumen was observed to be susceptible to contaminations by microorganisms; this required precautions during analysis. The chemical composition of the samples indicates that the Athabasca bitumen is basically a crude oil.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists