Recent achievement in hydrocarbon exploration in Northeast Sichuan (四川) demonstrated that Permian calcareous and argillaceous deposits are the major contributing source rocks. Reevaluation on the hydrocarbon potential of the Permian strata over the whole Yangtze region is thus to be desired. A comprehensive corroboration was carried out at the Shangsi (上寺) Section, Guangyuan (广元), Northeast Sichuan, which is believed to be another promising area in South China. This article deals with the ecological and depositional conditions of the Permian strata in the section, including the Chihsia, Maokou (茅口), Wujiaping (吴家坪), and Dalong (大隆) formations, which share some similarities with those occurring in the broad Yangtze carbonate platforms. Five fossil communities of Mizzia-Permocaiculus, Hayasakaia, Inozoan, Ostracod, and Crinoid were identified in the Yangtze region and described in detail including their components and occurrence. On the basis of the fossil communities and depositionai features, 23 habitat types, mainly occurring from inner to outer shelves, were recognized at the Shangsi Section in order to reconstruct the depositionai conditions and accordingly to evaluate the paleoproductivity. In addition, the subdivision of Chihsia Formation in the section was revised, which would be of significance for the reconstruction of the Chihsian paleogeography in the study area.
This study recovered the Guadalupian conodont faunas from Shangsi (上寺) Section in Northeast Sichuan (四川). Four genera and nine species were identified, and three conodont zones were recognized and established; they include Jinogondolella nankingensis Zone, J. aserrata Zone, and J. postserrata Zone. The Roadian and Wordian boundary is set in the interval 5 m from the top of Bed 86 by the first appearance of the conodont J. aserrata. The Wordian and Capitanian boundary is set in the interval 2.3 m from the top of the Bed 95 by the first appearance of J. postserrata. Most of the specimens demonstrated low color alteration index (CAI) as 1.5-3, indicating that most part of the Maokou (茅口) Formation may have the suitable thermal conditions for the formation of oil source rocks.
The marine primary producers assimilate the atmospheric CO2 to form the organic carbon in surface water. The organic carbon then settles down through the water column and is removed from the oceans by final preservation in sediments in the form of petroleum or nature gases. The reconstruction of paleoproductivity will thus improve our understanding of the biological processes in the formation of fossil energy resource and help to locate new sites for future exploration. In this study, biorelated elements P, Cd, Al, Ba, as well as redox sensitive element Mo, were analyzed in the 448 rock samples collected from Permian strata at the Shangsi (上寺) Section, Guangyuan (广元), Northeast Sichuan (四川) in China. On the basis of the Ti content, the nondetrital contents of P, Ca, and Al, denoted as Pxs, Cdxs, and Alxs, were calculated and found to coincide with the TOC content throughout the whole section, with some enrichment intervals being found in the middle part of Chihsia Formation, topmost Maokou (茅口) Formation, and Dalong (大隆) Formation. This suggests that the biorelated elements could he used as proxies for the paleoproductivity here in this section. Baxs, a paleoproductivity indicator widely used in the paleoceanography, shows insignificant correlation with TOC, Pxs, Cdxs, and Alxs, probably arising from the loss of biological barium in anoxic conditions. Compiled with the data of TOC content and Pxs, Cdxs, and Alxs, three episodes of enhanced paleoproductivity were identified in Permian strata including the middle part of Chihsia Formation, topmost Maokou Formation, and Dalong Formation.
A series of biomarkers were identified in the aliphatic and aromatic fractions of the extracts from Late Permian Dalong (大隆) and Wujiaping (吴家坪) formations in Shangsi (上寺) Section, Northeast Sichuan (四川), South China, on the basis of the analysis of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MC). The dominance of lower-molecular-weight n-alkanes throughout the profile suggests the dominant contribution of algae and bacteria to the organics preserved in the marine section. Wujiaping Formation is characterized by the elevated contribution from algae as well as other photoautotrophs such as photosynthetic bacteria as shown by the molecular ratios of hopanes to steranes or tricyclic terpanes as well as the ratio of pristane (Pr) and phytane (Ph) to C17 and C18n-alkanes. This is in accord with the data from the microscopic measurement on the calcareous algae. In contrast, Dalong Formation is featured by enhanced contribution from bacteria and probably terrestrial organics indicated by the enhanced C24 tetracyclic terpanes relative to tricyclic terpanes. The two formations also show a distinct discrimination in sedimentary environmental conditions including redox condition and salinity. The anoxic condition was only found in the middle of the Dalong Formation as shown by the ratios of Pr/Ph and dibenzothiophene to phenanthrene, consistent with the reported data of Mo and U. An enhanced salinity indicated by the homohopane index is observed at the shallow Wujiaping Formation. On the basis of the composition of primary productivity and the redox condition, Dalong Formation is proposed, herein, to be potential hydrocarbon source rocks in the study site. It is notable that the topmost end-Permian is characterized by a large perturbance in both the redox condition and salinity, with oxic conditions being frequently interrupted by short-term anoxia, likely showing a causal relationship with the episodic biotic crisis across the Permian-Triassic boundary.
Paired organic and carbonate carbon isotope compositions of Late Permian Wujiaping (吴家坪) and Dalong (大隆) formations at Shangsi (上寺), Northeast Sichuan (四川) were analyzed by MAT 251. An abrupt negative excursion in the two isotope records was observed in the middle part of Dalong Formation, in association with a drop in the carbon isotope difference of the two records and an increase of total organic carbon (TOC) content. The negative drop of the paired carbon isotope records is suggestive of the input of 12C-enriched CO2. The molecular ratios of pristane to phytane and dibenzothiophene to phenanthrene indicate the anoxic condition in this interval. The enhanced TOC content is indicative of the elevated preservation of organic matter due to the anoxic condition. These isotopic and organic geochemical data probably infer the occurrence of the upwelling in this interval. The additional contribution of volcanism activity observed in South China cannot be excluded to the input of 12C-enriched CO2 and the negative shifts in carbon isotope composition of bulk organic matter and carbonate.
Because oxygen deficient conditions enhance the preservation of depositional organic matter, analysis on paleooxygenation conditions of depositional environments becomes a routine work in evaluations of potential hydrocarbon source rocks. The article focuses on depositional and ecological features relating to oxygen deficient shelfal environments at the Shangsi (上寺) Section, as a part of multidiscipline collaboration to reevaluate the hydrocarbon potential of the Middle and Upper Permian, Guangyuan (广元), Northeast Sichuan (四川) Province. Ichnofabric Zoophycos, sepiolite-bearing limestones (SBL) were interpreted as indicators of dysaerobic environments. Laminated calcareous and/or siliceous mudstones with pelagic ammonites and radiolarians were believed to be the deposits of anaerobic environments. When rhythmic succession was considered, average strategy was adopted for the oxygenation explanation of a given interval. The anaerobic condition in this Permian section was observed in the upper part of the latest Permian Dalong (大隆) Formation, in which siliceous mudstones with ammonite, radiolarians develop in association with lower U/Mo ratio, lower biomarker ratio of Pr/Ph, and the highest TOC content. The topmost Maokou (茅口) Formation, featured by thin-bedded calcareous and siliceous mudstones with ammonite, thin-shelled bivalves, and laminations would be deposits of the quasianaerobic condition. The middle part of the Members I and III of the Chihsia Formation is proposed to be dysaerobic condition as indicated by occurrences of SBL and ichnofabric features, with the Member III being the severe dysaerobic condition.
The redox sensitive elements, molybdenum (Mo) and uranium (U), in marine sediments from the latest Permian Dalong (大隆) Formation at the Shangsi (上寺) Section, Northeast Sichuan (四川), South China, were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to determine their response to a range of redox conditions, and to estimate the organic carbon burial rate. On the basis of the correlation between authigenic Mo abundance and organic carbon content in modern oceans, the organic carbon burial rates were calculated for the rocks at Dalong Formation, ranging from 0.48–125.83 mmol/(m2·d), which shows a larger range than the mineralization rate of organic carbon at the continental margins (1.6–4.23 mmol/(m2·d)). The Zr-normalized Mo and U abundances show large fluctuations in the entire section. The maxima of Zr-normalized Mo abundance and thus the maxima of the organic carbon burial rates were observed at the interval between the 155th and 156th beds (404–407 m above the base of Middle Permian). A decrease (the minimum) in U/Mo ratios is present in this interval. It is speculated that the oxygen-limited conditions and ultimately anoxia or euxinia may develop within this depth interval. In contrast, an enhanced enrichment of Zr-normalized U abundance is found, in association with less enrichment in Zr-normalized Mo abundance in the interval from the 151st to 154th beds (395–404 m above the base of Middle Permian), inferring the dominance of a suboxic/anoxic depositional condition (denitrifying condition), or without free H2S. The presence of small quantities of dissolved oxygen may have caused the solubilization and loss of Mo from sediments. It is proposed that the multiple cycles of abrupt oxidation and reduction due to the upwelling at this interval lead to the enhanced accumulation of authigenic U, but less enrichment of Mo. A decrease in the contents of U, Mo, and TOC is found above the 157th bed (407 m above the base of Middle Permian), in association with the enhanced U/Mo ratio, suggesting the overall oxic conditions at the end of the Dalong Formation.
A complete Permian section in Guangyuan (广元), Northeast Sichuan (四川), has been investigated, to explore the variation in organic matter richness and its main controlling factors. The research results of the detailed lithological description and organic/inorganic geochemical analysis of about 325 samples indicate that a high content of total organic carbon (TOC) occurs in calcareous mudstones and laminated marls or thin-bedded limestones. In carbonate rocks, the TOC content is negatively related to the thickness of the massive beds; the thinner the bed is, the higher the TOC content is. Marine organic matter is enriched in the outer shelf and relatively shallow basin floor environments with the maximum TOC contents of 5.07% and 14.6%, respectively. The main factors that affect the quantity and quality of marine organic matter include primary productivity, depositional processes, and redox conditions during deposition and the early diagenesis stage. Three intervals of marine good quality source rocks are identified in this section; they are lower Chihsia Formation, topmost Maokou (茅口) Formation, and the middle segment of the Dalong (大隆) Formation. They are formed in anoxic environments, in association with high primary productivity. Among these, high productivity in the lower Chihsia interval may originate from an upwelling flow area, whereas, in the rest of the intervals, it is inferred to be related to hot fluid activity due to volcanic eruption. The results of this study suggest that good quality marine source rocks in the Permian strata offer significant hydrocarbon potential.
Calcimicrobialites across the Permian-Triassic boundary in Huayingshan (华蓥山) region were investigated using the fluorescence microscopic measurements to understand the occurrence of organic matter. The microbialites are composed of micrite matrix and coarse spar cement. Abundant rhombic or magnetic needle-like carbonate minerals were observed adrift within the cement. The fluorescence microscopic measurement indicates the micrite matrix in microbialites shows the most abundant organic matter, with the rhombic or magnetic needle-like carbonate minerals and coarse spar cement coming to the 2nd and the 3rd, respectively. Organic matter is mainly preserved in the space between the grains of the micrite minerals but almost evenly distributed in the rhombic or magnetic needle-like carbonate minerals. As one of the common diagenesis types, dolomitization is observed to occur in the microbialites in Huayingshan. However, the carbonate cement in microbialites still has high content of element Sr as shown by the microprobe analysis, reflecting that the dolomitization might have happened in a restricted environment. Observation under the fluorescence microscope shows that dolomitization just led to the redistribution of organic matter in the grain space of dolomite minerals, inferring that the diagenesis has a slight effect on the preservation, and thus on the content of organic matter in the microbialites.
Minerals might act as important sorbents of sedimentary organic matter and reduce biodegradation, which favors the formation of hydrocarbon source rocks in the earth's history. Since most organic matter is degraded during the sinking process, at ambient temperature, it is important to investigate the adsorption capacity of different minerals during this process, to assess the organic loss from primary productivity to sedimentary organic matter. In this study, montmorillonite and calcite have been selected to study the impact of different minerals on the release, adsorption, and deposition of cyanobacterial (Synechococcus elonpata) fatty acids (FAs) at ambient temperature. Gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) have been utilized to detect the variation in fatty acids. Primary results suggest that minerals have a different impact on dissolved organic matter. Montmorillonite can specifically enhance the release of fatty acids from cyanobacterial cells by lowering the pH values of the solution. The adsorption of the dissolved organic matter by montmorillonite will also be enhanced under a lower pH value. Conjunction of fatty acids with montmorillonite to form a complex will favor the sinking and preservation of these organics. Selective adsorption is observed among fatty acids with different carbon numbers. In contrast, calcite does not show any impact on the release and adsorption of organic matter even though it is reportedly capable of acting as a catalyst during the transformation of organic matter at high temperature. The primary data bridge a link between primary productivity and sedimentary organic matter, suggesting the relative importance of claystones in the formation of hydrocarbon source rocks in the earth's history.
New total organic carbon (TOC) data from the two Ordovician-Silurian transitional graptolite-bearing black shale intervals, the Wufeng (五峰) Formation and the Longmaxi (龙马溪) Formation in Central Guizhou (贵州) and West Hubei (湖北), respectively, as well as previously reported TOC data from the same intervals in other places on the Yangtze platform of South China, have been used to produce an initial estimate of the primary paleoproductivity via a conventional inverse method (i.e., Rpp-inverse). The values of the Rpp-inverse are estimated to be 32 (43-21) gC/(m2·a) (Wufeng Formation) and 21 (27-16) gC/(m2·a) (Longmaxi Formation). Also, simultaneously, the habitat types (i.e., HT; cf., BA: benthic assemblage) and their temporal and spatial changes have been documented from the same succession, and an initial estimate of the primary paleoproductivity has been produced using a forward method (i.e., Rpp-forward). Being bounded mainly by the peritidal to inner-shelf environment shelly-facies or mixed-facies successions with BA1 to BA3 faunas both at the top and the base, which indicates the habitat types from HT Ⅱ1 to HT Ⅲ2, the biohabitat type of the two graptolite-bearing black shale intervals can be limited to HT Ⅲ to HT Ⅳ, corresponding to the inner shelf to the outer shelf, with depths from roughly 60 m to 200-300 m. Based on the current data from the South China Sea and the southern part of the East China Sea, values of Rpp-forward should be about 100 to 400 gC/(m2·a). The difference in the results via the two methods suggests that paleoproductivity estimates from the geological strata need to be made cautiously, with particular attention paid to the paleogeographic setting, oxic-anoxic conditions, as also the preservation factor of organic carbon.
The well-preserved Mesoproterozoic succession in the North China platform consists mainly of three lithological associations including peritidal quartz sandstone, shallow marine and lagoonal dark to black shales, and shallow epeiric carbonates, with a total thickness of up to 8 000 m. In addition to well-documented microplants, macroalgae, and microbial buildups, abundant microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS) and mat-related sediments have been recognized in these rocks. Intensive microbial mat layers and MISS are especially well preserved in the carbonates of the upper Gaoyuzhuang (高于庄) (ca. 1.5 Ga) and lower Wumishan (雾迷山) (ca. 1.45 Ga) formations, indicating diversified microbial activities and a high organic production. In these petrified biomats, putative microbial fossils (both coccoidal and filamentous) and framboidal pyrites have been identified. The abundance of authigenic carbonate minerals in the host rocks, such as, acicular aragonites, rosette barites, radial siderites, ankerites, and botryoidal carbonate cements, suggests authigenic carbonate precipitation from anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) under anoxic/euxinic conditions. Warm climate and anoxic/euxinic conditions in the Mesoproterozoic oceans may have facilitated high microbial productivity and organic burial in sediments. Although authigenic carbonate cements may record carbonate precipitation from anaerobic methane oxidation, gas blister (or dome) structures may indicate gas release from active methanogenesis during shallow burial. Bituminous fragments in mat-related carbonates also provide evidence for hydrocarbon generation. Under proper conditions, the Mesoproterozoic mat-rich carbonates will have the potential for hydrocarbon generation and serve as source rocks. On the basis of petrified biomats, a rough estimation suggests that the Mesoproterozoic carbonates of the North China platform might have a hydrocarbon production potential in the order of 10×108 t.