ABSTRACT

Low-maturity Boquillas Formation (Eagle Ford Formation–equivalent) organic-lean calcareous mudrock samples collected from outcrop were heated in gold tubes under confining pressure to investigate the evolution of organic matter (OM) pores and mineral pores. The majority of OM in the Boquillas samples was migrated petroleum (bitumen) based on evidence from geochemical analyses, solvent extraction, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) petrography. The SEM images showed several diagenetic events—including framboidal pyrite precipitation and euhedral calcite, quartz, kaolinite, and chlorite cementation—that were all interpreted to have occurred prior to petroleum expulsion and pore-scale to bed-scale petroleum (bitumen) migration. Two major pore types were present prior to heating: primary mineral pores and modified mineral pores with migrated relic OM. From heating experiments, pores were found to be associated with stages of OM maturation. During the bitumen generation stage, modified mineral pores were dominant, and primary interparticle and intraparticle pores were present. During the oil generation stage, modified mineral pores with isopachous OM rim were observed to be the most abundant pore type. During the gas generation stage, both modified mineral pores and nanometer-sized spongy OM pores were predominant. We interpreted the occurrence of modified mineral pores to be the result of (1) oil and gas filled or partially filled voids that developed during petroleum migration and water expulsion; (2) voids after removing of oil, gas, and water during sample preparation; and (3) trapping of water molecules. The formation of these nanopores was interpreted to be related to gas generation and structural rearrangement of OM.

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