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New insights on measured and calculated vitrinite reflectanceNormal access

Authors: T. Matava, V. Matt and J. Flannery
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 31, No 2, April 2019 pp. 213 - 227
DOI: 10.1111/bre.12317
Organisations: Wiley
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 664.85Kb )

Measurement of dispersed vitrinite reflectance in organic sediments is one of the few regional data sets used for placing bounds on the thermal history of a sedimentary basin. Reflectance data are important when access to complementary information such as high‐quality seismic data is unavailable to place bounds on subsidence history and in locations where uplift is an important part of the basin history. Attributes which make vitrinite reflectance measurements a useful data set are the relative ease of making the measurement, and the availability of archived well cores and cuttings in state, provincial, and federal facilities. In order to fully utilize vitrinite data for estimating the temperature history in a basin, physically based methods are required to calibrate an equivalent reflectance from a modelled temperature history with measured data. The most common method for calculating a numerical vitrinite reflectance from temperature history is the EASY%Ro method which we show systematically underestimates measured data. We present a new calculated reflectance model and an adjustment to EASY%Ro which makes the correlation between measured vitrinite values and calculated vitrinite values a physical relationship and more useful for constraining thermal models. We then show that calibrating the thermal history to vitrinite on a constant age date surface (e.g., top Cretaceous) instead of calibrating the thermal history in depth removes the heating rate component from the reflectance calculation and makes thermal history calibration easier to understand and more directly related to heat flow. Finally, we use bounds on the vitrinite–temperature relationships on a constant age date surface to show that significant uncertainty exists in the vitrinite data reported in most data sets.

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