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Geologic field relations and geochemical analyses imply a petroleum-related origin for the organic matter of uraniferous nodules in the Permian Hennessey Group red beds in Kiowa County, Oklahoma. The local presence of crude oil in the shallow subsurface and the absence of local occurrences of plant debris suggest a hydrocarbon-related origin for these nodules. Several oil seeps in the general vicinity of the study area indicate that major steep reverse faults near the nodule site may have provided vertical conduits for petroleum migration from deeper zones.
Geochemical analyses of the uraniferous nodules, including infrared spectroscopy and elemental analysis, reveal characteristics of both coal and petroleum. Carbon isotopic analyses favor a petroleum-related origin. A model incorporating field and geochemical evidence is suggested whereby crude oil, migrating from depth, is initially altered near the surface to a more viscous material. Concurrently migrating uranium-bearing ground water is then stripped of its uranium by the degraded petroleum. Therefore, presence of such nodules in the shallow subsurface may suggest buried petroleum deposits. Confirmation of this model must await further study of the effects of radiation damage on organic matter.
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