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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Prof. Dave Selby

Ge, X, Shen, C, Selby, D, Wang, G, Yang, Z, Gong, Y & Xiong, S (2018). Neoproterozoic-Cambrian petroleum system evolution of the Micang Shan Uplift, Northern Sichuan Basin, China: Insights from pyrobitumen Re-Os geochronology and apatite fission track analysis. AAPG Bulletin 102(8): 1429-1453.

Author(s) from Durham


The Neoproterozoic strata of the Sichuan Basin are a key target for oil and gas. To evaluate the hydrocarbon evolution and its relationship with tectonic events in the Micang Shan uplift, northernmost Sichuan Basin, we apply solid bitumen geochemistry (bitumen reflectance and fluorescence) and Re-Os geochronology.

The geochemistry of the solid bitumen indicates that it is highly mature pyrobitumen that formed contemporaneously with dry-gas generation during oil thermal cracking. The pyrobitumen is enriched in both Re (∼106–191 ppb) and Os (∼3030–5670 parts per trillion). The Re-Os isotope data imply an Early Jurassic date for pyrobitumen formation, which coincides well with age estimates from fluid-inclusion data and basin modeling. The Re-Os date for pyrobitumen formation coupled with previously presented apatite fission-track (AFT) analysis show that exhumation of the Neoproterozoic strata occurred during the Cretaceous in the Micang Shan uplift. This extensive uplift led to the erosion of any potential gas reservoirs and surface exposure of bitumen-bearing Neoproterozoic strata. In contrast, the more southern and central portions of the Sichuan Basin have experienced less severe exhumation and, as a result, Neoproterozoic-sourced gas systems are present. This study shows that, through the combined application of Re-Os and AFT methodologies, the timing of gas generation and subsequent erosion of any potential gas reservoirs in the Micang Shan uplift, northern Sichuan Basin, can be quantified. Moreover, the Re-Os and AFT data illustrate the potential to constrain the timing of gas generation in petroleum systems worldwide.