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Numerical modelling of the hydrocarbon generation of Tertiary source rocks intruded by doleritic sills in the Zhanhua depression, Bohai Bay Basin, China


Xiancai Lu, School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Nanjing University, Hankou 22, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210093, China. E-mail:


An igneous hydrocarbon reservoir had been found in the Zhanhua depression, Bohai Bay Basin, eastern China. Two doleritic sills successively intruded into the immature source rock of the third member of the Shahejie Formation (Es3). The heat released from the magma changed the mineral composition of wall rocks and accelerated the maturity of organic matter. Thin hornfels and carbargilite zones were found next to the sills. The vitrinite reflectances (%Ro) of these heated wall rocks increased to at least 1.4% near the contacts (<50 m), and accumulation of oil was found in the hornfels zone and dolerite bodies. With the aim of understanding the influence of the sills on the hydrocarbon generation process, a complex heat conduction model was used to simulate the thermal history of the organic-rich wall rocks, in which both the latent heat of crystallization of intrusions and vapourization heat of pore water in wall rocks were considered. The simulation results suggested that the cooling of each sill continued for about 0.1 Ma after its emplacement and the temperature of wall rocks was considerably raised. The peak temperature (Tpeak) that wall rocks experienced can reach 460–650°C in the region of 10 m away from the contacts. The thermal model was qualitatively verified by comparing the experimental data of vitrinite reflectances and mineral geothermometers of the wall rocks with the simulation results. Furthermore, we modelled the hydrocarbon generation of the source rocks based on the simulated thermal history. In the region of about 100 m from the contacts, the organic matter was heated and partially transformed into hydrocarbon within only a few 1000 years, which was significantly faster than the normal burial generation process.