COMMON OCCURRENCES OF AUTHIGENIC PYRITE CRYSTALS IN CRETACEOUS OIL SANDS AS CONSEQUENCE OF BIODEGRADATION PROCESSES
Journal: Geological Behavior (GBR)
Author: Timothy Bata, Nuhu K. Samaila, A.S. Maigari, M. B. Abubakar & Simon Y. Ikyoive
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Ten (10) Cretaceous oil sands from different localities around the world were studied with the aim of reporting the common occurrence of authigenic pyrite crystals in them. The observed pyrite crystals (both framboid and euhedral) are restricted to the pore spaces of the studied oil sands, in close association with biodegraded oils and other authigenic minerals. Diagenetic processes in one of the studied samples triggered the transformation of framboidal pyrite crystals to octahedral pyrite crystals. This study demonstrates that geological conditions/processes that lead to the formation of authigenic pyrite crystals in sandstones are those that favour biodegradation. Potentially, these conditions include occurrence at shallow depths (< 2000 m), moderate reservoir temperatures that can support microbial life (temperature < 80° C), availability of micro-organisms that are capable of degrading oils in the reservoir, nutrient availability (e.g., iron, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus), and oil volume in the reservoir. Studied framboidal pyrite crystals were observed to occur within confined spaces. The oils (organic matter) associated with the studied samples are believed to have played an important role of providing the source of spherule moulds for framboid pseudomorphs and aided the stabilization of the gel in which the framboid crystals were protected. TIC fragmentograms of the saturate fractions of the oils extracted from the studied oil sands show progressive depletion of chromatographically resolved hydrocarbons (e.g. n-alkanes, acyclic isoprenoid alkanes; alkyl benzenes, naphthalenes and phenanthrenes) relative to the unresolved hydrocarbon mixture, forming unresolved complex mixture (UCM) humps, consistent with oils that have undergone biodegradation.