S. Q. Zeng1,2,3*, J. Wang4*, W. B. Chen1,3, C. Y. Song1,3, Y. H. Zeng1, X. L. Feng1,3,and D. Wang1,3

1 Chengdu Center of the China Geological Survey, Chengdu 610081, Sichuan, China.

2 Institute of Sedimentary Geology, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu 610059, Sichuan, China.

3 Key Laboratory for Sedimentary Basin and Oil and Gas Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources, Chengdu 610081, Sichuan, China.

4 School of Geoscience and Technology, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, China.

* Corresponding authors.,

Key words: Organic-rich shales, hydrocarbon potential, source rocks, biomarkers, Zangxiahe Formation, Upper Triassic, Northern Qiangtang Depression, Tibet.

This study reports on the organic geochemical characteristics of high-TOC shales in the Upper Triassic Zangxiahe Formation from a study area in the north of the Northern Qiangtang Depression, northern Tibet. A total of fifty outcrop samples from the Duoseliangzi, Zangxiahe South and Zangxiahe East locations were studied to evaluate the organic matter content of the shales and their thermal maturity and depositional environment, and to assess their hydrocarbon generation potential.
Zangxiahe Formation shales from the Duoseliangzi profile have moderate to good source rock potential with TOC contents of up to 3.4 wt.% (average 1.2 wt.%) and potential yield (S1+S2) of up to 1.11 mg HC/g rock. Vitrinite reflectance (Ro) and Tmax values show that the organic matter is highly mature, corresponding to the condensate/wet gas generation stage. The shales contain mostly Types II and I kerogen mixed with minor Type III, and have relatively high S/C ratios, high contents of amorphous sapropelinite, low Pr/Ph ratios, high values of the C35 homohopane index (up to 3.58%), abundant gammacerane content, and a predominance of C27 steranes. These parameters indicate a saline, shallow-marine depositional setting with an anoxic, stratified water column. The source of organic matter was mainly aquatic OM (algal/bacterial) with subordinate terrigenous OM.
Zangxiahe Formation shale samples from the Zangxiahe East and Zangxiahe South locations have relatively low TOC contents (0.2 to 0.8 wt.%) with Type II kerogen, suggesting poor to medium hydrocarbon generation potential. Ro and Tmax values indicate that organic matter from these locations is overmature.
The discovery of organic-rich Upper Triassic shales with source rock potential in the north of the Northern Qiangtang Depression will be of significance for oil and gas exploration elsewhere in the Qiangtang Basin. Future exploration should focus on locations such as Bandaohu to the SE of the study area where the organic-rich shales are well developed, and where structural traps have been recorded together with potential reservoir rocks and thick mudstones which could act as seals.

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