Abstract

This paper describes the diagenetic evolution of clay minerals in the Rotliegend sandstone reservoir under contrasting burial histories in the Broad Fourteens basin (Dutch sector, Southern North Sea). The diagenetic modifications affecting the crystal structure of clay minerals (both kaolin-group and illitic minerals) were studied using X-ray diffraction (XRD). The XRD study includes oriented and random mounts of various size fractions, numerical processing (decomposition) of XRD profiles, and simulation of one-dimensional and three-dimensional XRD patterns. Petrographic observations, differential thermal analysis, K/Ar geochronology, and geochemical considerations complement the XRD study and allow determination of the sequence of mineral crystallization and the morphological evolution of clay minerals and place further constraints on the absolute timing of diagenetic events and on the nature of the fluids responsible for clay-mineral crystallization. From deposition time ( nearly equal 275 Ma) to the Kimmerian orogeny ( nearly equal 155 Ma), crystallization of kaolinite at the expense of K-feldspars was favored by acid fluids from the underlying Carboniferous Coal Measures source rocks; kaolinite crystallization is followed by a steady kaolinite-to-dickite transformation affecting both the structure and the morphology of kaolin-group minerals. The structural characteristics of kaolin-group minerals are related to the burial history of the sediments prior to the Kimmerian orogeny. During the Kimmerian orogeny, rapid illitization of kaolin-group minerals was favored both by increased heat flow in the sedimentary pile and by widespread presence of faults, which permitted significant fluid flow probably from the Zechstein Formation. The morphological and structural characteristics of illitic minerals, i.e., illite content of illite/smectite mixed layer (I/S), ratio of illite to I/S, and three-dimensional structure of illitic minerals, do not represent the progress of a smectite-to-illite transformation, but these characteristics clearly reflect the temperature during illitization of kaolin.

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