This article published in the AAPG Bulletin represents part of Benjamin Busch’s Ph.D. dissertation and includes Geocosm’s Linda Bonnell and Rob Lander as co-authors.
Silicate reaction kinetics provide a complementary means to other established paleothermal indicators such as organic maturation for evaluating thermal reconstructions. In this study we combine the use of an organic maturation model with kinetic models for quartz and illite cementation to evaluate burial history scenarios for five subsalt wells in lithologically and structurally complex Rotliegendes reservoirs. Models for organic maturation are most sensitive to maximum temperature and provide no direct evidence for the time of peak temperature or the overall duration of high temperatures. By contrast, the kinetics of quartz cementation are much more strongly influenced by the duration of exposure to high temperatures compared with organic indicators. Kinetic models for fibrous illite formation similarly are sensitive to time and temperature and provide predictions for the time of illite formation that can be compared with radiometric dates. Used collectively, these organic and inorganic paleothermal indicators provide improved constraints on thermal evolution compared with conventional approaches. In this study we use these indicators to evaluate two alternative burial history scenarios. Scenario 1 incorporates a hypothesized Jurassic heat flow peak together with significant Late Jurassic deposition and subsequent erosion. Scenario 2 omits the Jurassic heat flow peak and omits the deposition and erosion of the Upper Jurassic. Although both of these scenarios are consistent with organic maturation data, scenario 2 leads to a far better match with quartz cement volumes and fibrous illite K-Ar dates.