Dominic P. Strogen 1, 2 *, John E. A. Marshall 3, Andrew G. Whitham 1, † and Steven D. Andrews 1, 4

1 CASP, West Building, Madingley Rise, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0UD.

2 Present address: GNS Science, PO Box 30368, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand.

3 School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH.

4 University of the Highlands and Islands, 12b Ness Walk, Inverness, IV3 5SQ.


* Author for correspondence,

A number of exhumed hydrocarbon traps have been described from the Traill Ø region of East Greenland. This study focuses on the Bjørnedal area where the distribution of bitumen has been mapped out. Bitumen staining clearly has a cross-cutting relationship to stratigraphic units and can be shown to form distinct palaeo-accumulations. Detailed petrographic studies show that bitumen occurs as late diagenetic phases in Middle to Late Jurassic sandstones, and is present both as both grain-coating and pore-filling phases. Geochemical analyses confirm that the bitumen is organic in composition and is composed largely of carbon and hydrogen. Both H/C ratios and bonds identified by FTIR behave as expected with increasing maturity measured using bitumen reflectance. Together, these results provide strong evidence that the material is pyrobitumen derived from the in situ thermal degradation of a liquid hydrocarbon precursor. On the basis of textures in transmitted and reflected light and quantitative bitumen reflectance distributions, two populations of pyrobitumen may be recognised in some samples.

Two phases of Paleogene magmatism occurred in the Traill Ø region. The first late Paleocene – early Eocene phase was related to the opening of the northern North Atlantic in the earliest Eocene, and was experienced throughout East Greenland and the northwest European margin. The later magmatic phase was related to the gradual separation of the Jan Mayen microcontinent from East Greenland through the late Eocene – early Oligocene. A single pyrobitumen phase is recognised in accumulations only affected by the early magmatism, and a second phase is only observed in areas affected by both the early and later magmatism. This relationship is interpreted as evidence for a direct relationship between magmatic phases and bitumen generation. The presence of bitumen formed by the thermal degradation of liquid hydrocarbons during the later magmatic event suggests that a viable petroleum system remained active following the early magmatic event.

Key words: East Greenland, Jurassic, sandstones, petrography, bitumen, Paleogene, magmatism, palaeo oil accumulation, exhumed trap.

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