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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 98, No. 3 (March 2014), P. 587603.

Copyright copy2014. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Compositional controls on early diagenetic pathways in fine-grained sedimentary rocks: Implications for predicting unconventional reservoir attributes of mudstones

Joe H. S. Macquaker,1 Kevin G. Taylor,2 Margaret Keller,3 David Polya4

1Department of Geology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johnrsquos, Canada; present address : ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, Houston, Texas; [email protected]
2School of Earth, Atmospheric, and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom; [email protected]
3U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, MS 969, Menlo Park, 94025-2502 California; [email protected]
4School of Earth, Atmospheric, and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom; [email protected]


Diagenesis significantly impacts mudstone lithofacies. Processes operating to control diagenetic pathways in mudstones are poorly known compared to analogous processes occurring in other sedimentary rocks. Selected organic-carbon-rich mudstones, from the Kimmeridge Clay and Monterey Formations, have been investigated to determine how varying starting compositions influence diagenesis.

The sampled Kimmeridge Clay Formation mudstones are organized into thin homogenous beds, composed mainly of siliciclastic detritus, with some constituents derived from water-column production (e.g., coccoliths, S-depleted type-II kerogen, as much as 52.6% total organic carbon [TOC]) and others from diagenesis (e.g., pyrite, carbonate, and kaolinite). The sampled Monterey Formation mudstones are organized into thin beds that exhibit pelleted wavy lamination, and are predominantly composed of production-derived components including diatoms, coccoliths, and foraminifera, in addition to type-IIS kerogen (as much as 16.5% TOC), and apatite and silica cements.

During early burial of the studied Kimmeridge Clay Formation mudstones, the availability of detrital Fe(III) and reactive clay minerals caused carbonate- and silicate-buffering reactions to operate effectively and the pore waters to be Fe(II) rich. These conditions led to pyrite, iron-poor carbonates, and kaolinite cements precipitating, preserved organic carbon being S-depleted, and sweet hydrocarbons being generated. In contrast, during the diagenesis of the sampled Monterey Formation mudstones, sulfide oxidation, coupled with opal dissolution and the reduced availability of both Fe(III) and reactive siliciclastic detritus, meant that the pore waters were poorly buffered and locally acidic. These conditions resulted in local carbonate dissolution, apatite and silica cements precipitation, natural kerogen sulfurization, and sour hydrocarbons generation.

Differences in mud composition at deposition significantly influence subsequent diagenesis. These differences impact their source rock attributes and mechanical properties.

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