We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Prof. Dave Selby

Selby, D, Creaser, R.A, Dewing, K & Fowler, M (2005). Evaluation of bitumen as a 187Re-187Os geochronometer for hydrocarbon maturation and migration: A case study from the Polaris MVT deposit, Canada. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 235(1-2): 1-15.

Author(s) from Durham


Re–Os analyses of bitumen from the Polaris Mississippi Valley-type Zn–Pb deposit demonstrate the potential utility of the Re–Os system for establishing the absolute timing of hydrocarbon migration and generation. The Polaris deposit is hosted by carbonate rocks of the Upper Ordovician Thumb Mountain Formation, and sulphide mineralization during Late Devonian time is constrained by a Rb–Sr sphalerite date of 366 ± 15 Ma and a paleomagnetic date. Bitumen occurs in open-space fillings and coatings, and is interpreted to have formed during the main and late stages of sulphide mineralization. Samples of bitumen were taken from a variety of locations from the main deposit at Polaris; Re and Os contents are 3–78 ppb and 55–1155 ppt, respectively. The 187Re/188Os ratios are very high, ranging from 300 to 1800, and the Os isotopic composition is moderately to highly radiogenic, with 187Os/188Os ratios ranging from 3.3 to 13.7. Calculated 187Os/188Os ratios at 366 Ma are variable, but an obvious grouping is defined by 11 of 16 analyses on a Re–Os isochron diagram, and these data yield a Re–Os date of 374 ± 9 Ma (MSWD = 12, Model 3), in agreement with Rb–Sr sphalerite and paleomagnetic dates for mineralization at Polaris. The combined dates suggest that the migration of fluids responsible for both Pb–Zn mineralization and bitumen formation at Polaris was broadly contemporaneous, and was coeval with the Late Devonian Ellesmerian Orogeny. Though considerable further research is required to understand the Re–Os isotopic systematics of migrated hydrocarbon systems, bitumen Re–Os geochronology may provide the possibility of establishing a more comprehensive understanding of MVT deposits, sedimentary basin and petroleum systems.



A.S. Cohen, A.L. Coe, J.M. Bartlett, C.J. Hawkesworth,
Precise Re–Os ages of organic-rich mudrocks and the Os
isotope composition of Jurassic seawater, Earth Planet. Sci.
Lett. 167 (1999) 159– 173.


R.A. Creaser, P. Sannigrahi, T. Chacko, D. Selby, Further
evaluation of the Re–Os geochronometer in organic-rich
sedimentary rocks: a test of hydrocarbon maturation effects
in the Exshaw Formation,Western Canada Sedimentary Basin,
Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 66 (2002) 3441– 3452.


B.S. Kendall, R.A. Creaser, G.M. Ross, D. Selby, Constraints
on the timing of Marinoan dSnowball EarthT glaciation by
187Re–187Os dating of a Neoproterozoic post-glacial black
shale in western Canada, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 222 (2004)


D. Selby, R.A. Creaser, Direct radiometric dating of the
Devonian–Carboniferous timescale boundary using the Re–Os
black shale geochronometer, Geology in press.


J.M. Hunt, Petroleum Geochemistry and Geology, W.H.
Freeman and Company, New York, 1996, 743 pp.


B.K. Esser, K.K. Turekian, The osmium isotopic composition
of the continental crust, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 57 (1993)
3093– 3104.


G. Ravizza, K.K. Turekian, Application of the 187Re–187Os
system to black shale geochronometry, Geochim. Cosmochim.
Acta 53 (1989) 3257– 3262.


W. Sun, V.C. Bennett, S.M. Eggins, V.S. Kamenetsky, R.J.
Arculus, Enhanced mantle-to-crust rhenium transfer in undegassed
arc magmas, Nature 422 (2003) 294–297.


W. Sun, R.J. Arculus, V.C. Bennett, S.M. Eggins, R.A. Binns,
Evidence for rhenium enrichment in the mantle wedge from
submarine arc-like volcanic glasses (Papua New Guinea),
Geology 31 (2003) 845–848.


D. Selby, R.A. Creaser, Re–Os geochronology of organic rich
sediments: an evaluation of organic matter analysis methods,
Chem. Geol. 200 (2003) 225– 240.


A.B. Barre, A. Prinzhofer, C.J. Allegre, Osmium isotopes in
the organic matter of crude oil and asphaltenes, Terra Abstr. 7
(1995) 199.


S.M. Basitova, E.F. Zasorina, O.A. Azizkulova, M.B. Dzhabirova,
Concentration and distribution of rhenium and
molybdenum in the oil shales of middle Asia, Geochem. Int.
1974 (1974) 743–747.


Y.M. Poplavko, V.V. Ivanov, T.G. Karasik, A.D. Miller,
V.A. Fadeyeva, V.S. Orekhov, S.D. Taliyev, Y.A. Tarkhov,
On the concentration of rhenium in petroleum, petroleum
bitumens and oil shales, Geochem. Int. 11 (1974)


Z. Bing-Quan, Z. Jing-Lian, T. Xiang-Lin, C. Xiang-Yang, F.
Cai-Yuan, L. Ying, L. Ju-Ying, Pb, Sr and Nd isotpic features
in organic matter from China and their implications for
petroleum generation and migration, Geochim. Cosmochim.
Acta 65 (2001) 2555–2570.


J. Parnell, I. Swainbank, Pb–Pb dating of hydrocarbon
migration into a bitumen-bearing ore deposit, North Wales,
Geology 18 (1990) 1028– 1030.


G.M. Anderson, R.W. MacQueen, Mississippi Valley-type
lead–zinc deposits, in: R.G. Roberts, P.A. Sheahan (Eds.), Ore
Deposit Models, Geological Association of Canada, Ontario,
1988, pp. 79–90.


J.G. Speight, The Chemistry and Technology of Petroleum,
Marcel Dekker Inc., New York, 1998, 918 pp.


D.T.A. Symons, D.F. Sangster, Late Devonian paleomagnetic
age for the Polaris Mississippi Valley-type Zn–Pb deposit,
Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Can. J. Earth Sci. 29 (1992)
15– 25.


R.N. Randell, G.M. Anderson, The geology of the Polaris
carbonate-hosted Zn–Pb deposit, Canadian Arctic Archipelago,
Current Research, Part D, Geol. Surv. Can. (1990) 47–53
(Paper 90-1 D).


K. Dewing, E.C. Turner, Structural setting of the Cornwallis
lead–zinc district, Arctic Islands, Nanavut, Geol. Surv. Can.
Current Res. 2003-B4 (2003) 1– 9.


J.N. Christensen, A.N. Halliday, K.E. Leigh, R.N. Randell,
S.E. Kesler, Direct dating of sulfides by Rb–Sr: a critical test
using the Polaris Mississippi Valley-type Zn–Pb deposit,
Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 59 (1995) 5191–5197.


J.W. Kerr, Cornwallis lead–zinc district; Mississippi Valleytype
deposits controlled by stratigraphy and tectonics, Can. J.
Earth Sci. 14 (1977) 1402–1426.


A.V. Okulitch, J.J. Packard, A.I. Zolani, Evolution of the
Boothia uplift, Arctic Canada, Can. J. Earth Sci. 23 (1986)
350– 358.


A.F. Embry, Middle–Upper Devonian sedimentation in the
Canadian Arctic Islands and the Ellesmerian orogeny, in: N.J.
McMillian, A.F. Embry, D.J. Glass (Eds.), Devonian of the
World, Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists Memoir,
vol. 12, 1988, pp. 15– 28.


M.M. Savard, G. Chi, T. Sami, A.E. Williams-Jones, K. Leigh,
Fluid inclusion and carbon, oxygen, and strontium isotope
study of the Polaris Mississippi Valley-type Zn–Pb deposit,
Canadian Arctic Archipelago: implications for ore genesis,
Miner. Depos. 35 (2000) 495– 510.


D. Selby, R.A. Creaser, Re–Os geochronology and systematics
in molybdenite from the Endako porphyry molybdenum
deposit, British Columbia, Canada, Econ. Geol. 96 (2001)
197– 204.


R.A. Creaser, D.A. Papanastassiou, G.J. Wasserburg, Negative
thermal ion mass spectrometry of osmium, rhenium and
iridium, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 55 (1991) 397– 401.


J. Volkening, T. Walczyk, K.G. Heumann, Osmium isotope
ratio determinations by negative thermal ion mass spectrometry,
Int. J. Mass Spectrom. Ion Process. 105 (1991) 147– 159.


J.W. Gramlich, T.J. Murphy, E.L. Garner, W.R. Shields,
Absolute isotopic abundance ratio and atomic weight of a
reference sample of rhenium, J. Res. Natl. Bur. Stand. 77A
(1973) 691–698.


K. Ludwig, Isoplot/Ex, version 3: A Geochronological Toolkit
for Microsoft Excel., Geochronology Center Berkeley, 2003.


M.I. Smoliar, R.J. Walker, Re–Os isotope constraints on the
age of Group IIA, IIIA, IVA, and IVB iron meteorites, Science
271 (1996) 1099– 1102.


K.R. Ludwig, Calculation of uncertainties of U–Pb isotope
data, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 46 (1980) 212– 220.


K.E. Peters, J.M. Moldowan, The Biomarker Guide, Prentice
Hall, New Jersey, 1993, 363 pp.


L.D. Stasiuk, M.G. Fowler, Paleozoic hydrocarbon source
rocks, Truro Island, Arctic Canada: organic petrology, organic
geochemistry and thermal maturity, Bull. Can. Pet. Geol. 42
(1994) 419–431.


A.P. Dickin, Radiogenic Isotope Geology, Cambridge University
Press, United Kingdom, 1995, 490 pp.


J.M. Whiticar, L.R. Snowdon, Geochemical characterization
of selected western Canada oils by C5–C8 Compound
Specific Isotope Correlation (CSIC), Org. Geochem. 30
(1999) 1127–1161.


B. Peucker-Ehrenbrink, G. Ravizza, The marine osmium
isotope record, Terra Nova 12 (2000) 205–219.


B.F. Schaefer, J.M. Burgess, Re–Os isotopic age constraints
on deposition in the Neoproterozoic Amadeus Basin: implications
for dSnowball EarthT, J. Geol. Soc. (Lond.) 160 (2003)
825– 828.


T.H. Giordano, Organic matter as a transport agent in oreforming
systems, in: T.H. Giordano, R.M. Kettler, S.A. Wood
(Eds.), Ore Genesis and Exploration: the Roles or Organic
Matter, Reviews in Economic Geology, vol. 9, Society of
Economic Geologists, Boulder, Colorado, 2000, pp. 133–155.


D.A.C. Manning, A.P. Gize, The role of organic matter in ore
transport processes, Organic Geochemistry, Plenum Press,
New York, Manchester, 1993, 547–563 pp.


J.L. Hannah, H.J. Stein, Re–Os systematics in syn-sedimentary/
diagenetic pyrite: precise ages and Os cycling, in: D.G.
Eliopoulos (Ed.), Mineral Exploration and Sustainable Development,
Millpress, Rotterdam, 2003, pp. 81– 84.


A.C. Pierson-Wickmann, L. Reisberg, C. France-Lanord,
Impure marbles of the Lesser Himalaya: another source of
continental radiogenic osmium, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 204
(2002) 203–214.


J.N. Christensen, A.N. Halliday, S.E. Kesler, Rb–Sr dating of
sphalerite and the ages of Mississippi Valley-type Pb–Zn
deposits, D.F. Sangster (Ed.), Economic Geology: Carbonate-
Hosted Lead–Zinc Deposit, vol. 4, 1996, pp. 527– 535.