ABSTRACT

Thermal properties of rocks are essential parameters for investigating the geothermal regime of sedimentary basins, and they are also important factors in assessments of hydrocarbon and geothermal energy resources. The Tarim Basin, the largest basin located in the north of the Tibetan Plateau, northwestern China, has great hydrocarbon resource potential and is an ongoing target for industry exploration. However, the thermal properties of sedimentary rocks within the basin are yet to be systematically investigated at a basin scale, thereby limiting our understanding of the thermal regime in the basin. Here, we collected 101 samples of sedimentary rocks and measured their thermal properties. Our results show that the ranges (and means) of thermal conductivity, radiogenic heat production, and specific heat capacity are 1.08–5.35 W/mK (2.52 ± 0.99 W/mK), 0.03–3.24 μW/m3 (1.24 ± 0.87 μW/m3), and 0.75–1.10 kJ/(kg·°C) (0.87 ± 0.07 kJ/(kg·°C)), respectively. Volumetric heat capacity and thermal diffusivity at the temperature of 40°C range from 1.61 to 2.79 MJ/(m3·K) (2.26 ± 0.25 MJ/[m3·K]) and 0.44–2.95 × 10−6 m2/s ((1.12 ± 0.53) × 10−6 m2/s), respectively. The thermal properties vary considerably for different lithologies, even within the same lithotype, indicating that thermal properties alone cannot be used to distinguish lithology. Thermal conductivity increases with increased burial depth, density, and stratigraphic age, suggesting the dominant influence is porosity variation on thermal conductivity. Furthermore, a strong contrast in the thermal properties of rock salt and other sedimentary rocks perturbs the geothermal pattern, which should be taken into consideration when performing basin modeling.

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