The Tarim Basin is the largest inland basin in China. The hydrocarbon charge history of the Silurian bituminous sandstone reservoirs in the Tazhong uplift was investigated using an integrated approach, combining detailed petrographic analysis (thin section, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy), clay mineral x-ray diffraction characterization, and modeling of authigenic clay minerals and subsequent potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating of authigenic illite. The timing of the hydrocarbon charges of the reservoirs in the Tazhong uplift area is compared with that of the Kongquehe area within the basin. The authigenic illite ages in the Tazhong uplift area and the Kongquehe area range from 383 Ma to 204 Ma, indicating a unique age distribution pattern in the basin. The Silurian oil accumulations were primarily formed in the late Caledonian through the late Hercynian. The reservoirs within wells Qiao-1, Kongque-1, Longkou-1, and Yingnan-2, located in the western area and the eastern area of the basin, were charged around 383 to 271 Ma in the late Caledonian to the early Hercynian. The reservoirs in wells Tazhong-37, Tazhong-67, Tazhong-12, and Tazhong-32, located in the center of the basin, were charged at around 235 to 204 Ma in the late Hercynian. A correlation between the authigenic illite ages and the thickness of the Silurian bituminous sandstones suggests that the paleostructural framework is a key controlling factor. The paleo-oil pool located in and around the sedimentary centers, such as wells Qiao-1 and Kongque-1, was formed relatively early (383 Ma). The K-Ar dating results were consistent with the results of conventional hydrocarbon accumulation history analysis and highlight the differences in the accumulation timing between various oil pools in different parts of the basin.

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