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The Xiamaling oil shale generated through Rhodophyta over 800 Ma ago

【摘要】:A suit of oil shales, predominated by black argillaceous silicalite and finely laminated black-brown shale, has been discovered in a set of carbonaceous-siliceous mudstone formations (350 m in thickness) in the third member of Xiamaling Formation of the Upper Proterozoic Qingbaikou Series (900―873 MaBP), Xiahuayuan, Hebei Province, China. The oil shale, combustible with strong bitumen odour, has su- per-high TOC contents ranging from 21.4% to 22.9%, bitumen “A” contents from 0.58% to 0.88% and oil length from 5.29% to 10.57%. The ultrathin section observation of the shale and the identification of its kerogen demonstrate that its hydrocarbon-generative parent material is mainly benthonic Rhodophyta whose specific tetrasporangia are legible and abundant. It is rarely reported in the literature that such a hydrocarbon-generative parent material, composed mainly of Rhodophyta and with extraordinarily high contents of TOC and bitumen “A”, developed into a set of high-quality source rocks. The extracts of the oil shale are characteristic of richness in 17α(H)-diahopanes and n-alkyl tricyclic terpenoids but low in steranes. Such a biomarker feature is obviously different from that of the extracts from other Proterozoic marine carbonate source rocks of the studied area. Since the biological constitution of this oil shale is rather simple, it is clear that these biomarkers most likely represent to certain extent the specific mo- lecular constitutions of the benthonic Rhodophyta identified in the ultrathin sections of the samples. Studies on its lithologic association and depositional sequences suggest that this suit of the carbona- ceous-siliceous mudstone formation, which contains oil shales, was probably developed in an under- compensation deep-bay environment when a maximum transgression occurred during the formation of the third member of Xiamaling Formation. The high concentration of SiO2 in this organic-rich rock and the positive correlation between TOC and some trace elements such as P, Cu, Ni, W and Mo indicate that this suit of rocks was affected by activities of bottom thermal currents as deposited.

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