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AAPG Bulletin, Preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 9 October 2023.

Copyright © 2023. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Hypogenic Karstic Cavities Formed by Tectonic-Driven Fluid Mixing in the Ordovician Carbonates from the Tarim Basin, NW China

Lei Jiang123 , Anjiang Shen4 , Zhanfeng Qiao4 , Anping Hu4 , Zhaohui Xu5 , Heng Zhang6 , Bo Wan123 , and Chunfang Cai123

1 Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
2 College of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3 Institutions of Earth Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
4 PetroChina Hangzhou Research Institute of Geology, Hangzhou 310023, China
5 Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, PetroChina, Beijing 100083, China
6 School of Earth Resources, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China

Ahead of Print Abstract

Enhanced hydrogeologic circulations promoted by tectonics are commonly linked to karstic cavities formation in carbonate rocks, providing superb reservoir for hosting energy resources (i.e., hydrocarbon and geothermal) in sedimentary basins. Predicting such cavern reservoirs in deep subsurface is difficult mainly due to uncertainties in timing the tectonics and characterizing their associated fluids, which hamper the related hydrocarbon exploration. By coupling of carbonate U-Pb chronology, geochemistry, and seismic data analyzes, of fracture and cave-filling carbonates in cavern reservoirs from the Ordovician units of Tarim Basin, Northwestern China, the current study sought new evidence for fluids activities related to tectonics. Crucially, carbonate U-Pb ages confirm that these karstification events were closely related to syn- and/or post-mineralization faulting by local tectonics. Geochemistry signatures in the authigenic minerals of fractures further suggest that the episodically developed meteoric water mixed with deep basinal brine. Carbonates dissolution rate might have been markedly enhanced by active hydrologic circulation and fluids mixing or even the formation of sulfuric acid, thus promoting the formation of karstic cavities that was closely related to the deep-rooted fractures and faults. This study highlights the indispensable role of hypogenic karstification in the formation of cavern carbonate reservoirs in the Ordovician units of the Tarim Basin and the outcome from this new contribution may provide useful guidelines for hydrocarbon exploration in the basin and other global analogues.

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Please cite this AAPG Bulletin Ahead of Print article as:

Lei Jiang , Anjiang Shen , Zhanfeng Qiao , Anping Hu , Zhaohui Xu , Heng Zhang , Bo Wan , Chunfang Cai: Hypogenic Karstic Cavities Formed by Tectonic-Driven Fluid Mixing in the Ordovician Carbonates from the Tarim Basin, NW China, (in press; preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 09 October 2023: AAPG Bulletin, DOI:10.1306/08022321011.