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Abstract

Lacustrine environments are a major contributor of petroleum source rocks. Lacustrine source rock prediction is, however, influenced by numerous, complex variables governing lake sedimentation. Current predictive capability can be improved by attempting to map essential climatic variables to limit in space and time the area of lacustrine source rock exploration. Climatic characteristics that govern lake occurrence and the potential for stratification have been investigated with a General Circulation Model of the atmosphere for the present and for the mid-Cretaceous. In this analysis, the distribution of areas with a positive water balance first is used as an indicator of the distribution of areas conducive to lake formation. Second, the distribution of areas that experience large annual climatic variations is used as an indicator of the distribution of lakes that are less likely to be stratified and, hence, less likely to be sites of high organic-carbon preservation. Four factors used to define large climatic variations include (1) seasonal temperature cycle in excess of 40°C; (2) seasonal temperature extreme of less than 4C°; (3) average seasonal differences in precipitation minus evaporation balance in excess of 5 mm/ day; and (4) distribution of mid-latitude winter storms. Evidence is presented to support the capability of climate models that add insight into lacustrine source rock prediction by simulating geographic regions conducive to lake development and to stratification and organic-carbon preservation

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