Correlating biodegradation to magnetization in oil bearing sedimentary rocks

Stacey Emmerton*, Adrian R. Muxworthy, Mark A. Sephton, Milagrosa Aldana, Vincenzo Costanzo-Alvarez, German Bayona, Wyn Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A relationship between hydrocarbons and their magnetic signatures has previously been alluded to but this is the first study to combine extensive geochemical and magnetic data of hydrocarbon-associated samples. We report a detailed study that identifies a connection between magnetic mineralogy and oil biodegradation within oil-bearing sedimentary units from Colombia, Canada Indonesia and the UK.

Geochemical data reveal that all the oil samples are derived from mature type-II kerogens deposited in oxygen-poor environments. Biodegradation is evident to some extent in all samples and leads to a decrease in oil quality through the bacterially mediated conversion of aliphatic hydrocarbons to polar constituents. The percentage of oil components and the biodegradation state of the samples were compared to the magnetic susceptibility and magnetic mineralogy. A distinct decrease in magnetic susceptibility is correlated to decreasing oil quality and the amount of extractable organic matter present. Further magnetic characterization revealed that the high quality oils are dominated by pseudo-single domain grains of magnetite and the lower quality oils by larger pseudo-single domain to multidomain grains of magnetite and hematite. Hence, with decreasing oil quality there is a progressive dominance of multidomain magnetite as well as the appearance of hematite. It is concluded that biodegradation is a dual process, firstly, aliphatic hydrocarbons are removed thereby reducing oil quality and secondly, magnetic signatures are both created and destroyed. This complex relationship may explain why controversy has plagued previous attempts to resolve the connection between magnetics and hydrocarbon deposits.

These findings reinforce the importance of bacteria within petroleum systems as well as providing a platform for the use of magnetization as a possible exploration tool to identify subsurface reservoirs and a novel proxy of hydrocarbon migration. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-165
Number of pages20
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume112
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013

Keywords

  • LLANOS FORELAND BASIN
  • HYDROCARBON MIGRATION
  • AUTHIGENIC MAGNETITE
  • PETROLEUM SEEPAGES
  • EASTERN INDONESIA
  • SOUTHERN ENGLAND
  • DEEP SUBSURFACE
  • WELL SAMPLES
  • FIELDS
  • VENEZUELAN

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