Jurassic strata along the southern margin of Junggar Basin are important petroleum system elements for exploration in northwest China. The Lower and Middle Jurassic source rock effectiveness has been questioned as exploration progresses deeper into the basin. These source rocks are very thick and are distributed widely. They contain a high total organic carbon composed predominantly of Type III kerogen, with some Type II kerogen. Our evaluation of source rock petroleum generation characteristics and expulsion history, including one-dimensional basin modeling, indicates that Jurassic source rocks are gas prone at deeper depths. They reached peak oil generation during the Early Cretaceous and began to generate gas in the Late Cretaceous. Gas generation peaked in the Paleogene–Neogene. Source rock shales and coals reached petroleum expulsion thresholds at thermal maturities of 0.8% and 0.75% vitrinite reflectance, respectively, when the petroleum expulsion efficiency was ∼40%. The petroleum generated and expelled from these source rocks are 3788.75 × 108 and 1507.55 × 108 t, respectively, with a residual 2281.20 × 108 t retained in the source rocks. In these tight reservoirs, a favorable stratigraphic relationship (where tight sandstone reservoirs directly overlie the source rocks) indicates short vertical and horizontal migration distances. This indicates the potential for a large, continuous, tight-sand gas resource in the Lower and Middle Jurassic strata. The in-place natural gas resources in the Jurassic reservoirs are up to 5.68 × 1012 − 15.14 × 1012 m3. Jurassic Badaowan and Xishanyao coals have geological characteristics that are favorable for coal-bed methane resources, which have an in-place resource potential between 3.60 × 1012 and 11.67 × 1012 m3. These Lower and Middle Jurassic strata have good shale gas potential compared with active US shale gas, and the inferred in-place shale gas resources in Junggar Basin are between 20.73 × 1012 and 113.89 × 1012 m3. This rich inferred conventional and unconventional petroleum resource in tight-sand, coal-bed, and shale gas reservoirs makes the deeper Jurassic strata along the southern margin of Junggar Basin a prospective target for future exploration.

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