Noble gases in conventional and unconventional petroleum systems
David J. Byrne, P. H. Barry, M. Lawson, C. J. Ballentine, 2018. "Noble gases in conventional and unconventional petroleum systems", From Source to Seep: Geochemical Applications in Hydrocarbon Systems, M. Lawson, M.J. Formolo, J.M. Eiler
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Petroleum systems represent complex multiphase subsurface environments. The properties of the noble gases as conservative physical tracers allow them to be used to gain insight into the physical behaviour occurring within hydrocarbon systems. This can be used to better understand the mechanisms of hydrocarbon migration, residence time of fluids, and measurement of the scale of the subsurface fluid system involved in the transport and trapping of the hydrocarbon phase. The noble gases in the subsurface derive from different sources with distinct isotopic compositions, allowing them to be resolved in any crustal fluid. We discuss the processes within petroleum systems that incorporate the noble gases from each of these sources into hydrocarbon accumulations. The dominant mechanism controlling the introduction of air-derived noble gases into petroleum systems is via subsurface groundwater, and this records key information about the interaction of the petroleum system with the hydrogeological regime. Radiogenic noble gases accumulate over time, recording information about the age and relative timing of processes within the petroleum system. We review the conceptual framework and quantitative models describing these processes using examples from previous studies, and discuss both their current limitations and the potential for their application to unconventional hydrocarbon systems.
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Hydrocarbon systems, by nature, are a complex interplay of elements that must be spatially and temporally aligned to result in the generation and preservation of subsurface hydrocarbon accumulations. To meet the increasing challenges of discovering hydrocarbon resources, it is essential that we advance our understanding of these systems through new geochemical approaches and analytical developments. Such development requires that academic- and industry-led research efforts converge in ways that are unique to the geosciences.
The aim of this volume is to bring together a multidisciplinary geochemical community from industry and academia working in hydrocarbon systems to publish recent advances and state-of-the-art approaches to resolve the many remaining questions in hydrocarbon systems analysis. From Source to Seep presents geochemical and isotopic studies that are grouped into three themes: (1) source-rock identification and the temperature/timing of hydrocarbon generation; (2) mechanisms and time-scales associated with hydrocarbon migration, trapping, storage and alteration; and (3) the impact of fluid flow on reservoir properties.