Elemental geochemistry of lower Silurian Longmaxi shale in southeast Sichuan Basin, South China: Constraints for Paleoenvironment

A significant proportion of shale gas resources occurs in Lower Silurian Longmaxi Formation in southeast Sichuan Basin, South China, where commercial gas production has been achieved at Fuling Shale Gas Field. This study area is located adjacent to Fuling Jiaoshiba shale play. Elemental geochemistry regarding paleoenvironment aspects of lower Silurian Longmaxi shale gas is poorly understood. However, the samples in this study are representative, revealing the complete elemental geochemical characteristics of Longmaxi Shale. This research has analysed trace and rare earth elements of lower Silurian Longmaxi Shale and investigated the depositional environment, provenance, and tectonic settings when this type of shale formed. Sedimentary structures include horizontal lamination, massive lamination, and deformation structures that are well developed in black shale and grey silty shale of lower Silurian Longmaxi Formation. Gamma ray, total organic carbon, and pyrite contents are relatively higher in the lower part of the shale. The enrichment of sulfophile heavy metal elements (Cu, Zn, Pb, Mo, Ni) indicates that a reducing environment is common during the deposition of Longmaxi Formation. The concentration of rare earth elements is generally constant with relatively high concentration of light rare earth elements, stable concentration of heavy rare earth elements, and negative Eu anomalies. The sediments of Longmaxi Formation are derived primarily from the sedimentary rocks and granites in continental crust. The combination of trace and rare earth elements indicates that the tectonic settings of the provenance are continental island arc and active continental margin.

Geomorphologic study of the valley floor in different tectonic segments along Kosi River valley between South Almora Thrust and Himalayan Frontal Thrust: Kumaun Himalaya, India

In the Kumaun Himalaya, a portion of the Kosi River valley of ~90 km in length is chosen to study the fluvial morphology that provides first‐order information about the dynamic response of bedrock channels to tectonic impulse. The Kosi River flows across/along major tectonic boundaries such as the South Almora Thrust, Ramgarh Thrust, Main Boundary Thrust, and the Himalayan Frontal Thrust, and local transverse and longitudinal faults. Varied fluvial landforms correspond to different tectonic settings, lithologies, bedrock channels, hillslopes, large landslides, terraces, and fans. The longitudinal valleys are also the sites for thick aggradational landforms. Some portion of these valleys fall in the areas of active extensional tectonics and is characterized by one of the widest valley floor sections in the Lesser Himalaya. In contrast, the transverse valley sections are incised by deep‐cut v‐shaped valleys and the narrowest valley section. Swerving of the Kosi River is observed in the Ramgarh Thrust and Amel Fault zones and also in the Main Boundary Thrust zone. Recent tectonic activity is evident from the presence of the faulted Quaternary deposits, linear fault scarps, abandoned channels, incised meandering, and multiple levels of terraces/strath terraces. Field observations and the computed ratio of valley floor width to valley height (Vf) corroborate each other. Valleys developed parallel to the strike of faults and bedrocks have relatively broader valleys with higher Vf values whereas in contrast, the valleys developed across the bedrock strike are narrow with smaller Vf values. The results of computed stream length gradient (SL) and steepness (Ks) indices show considerable correlations between the obtained SL and Ks data and the field evidences; high values of SL and Ks are characterized by the presence of knick points observed at the prominent thrusts and faults.

Geochemistry of magnetite from the Huanggang skarn iron–tin polymetallic deposit in the southern Great Xing’an Range, NE China

The Huanggang iron–tin polymetallic skarn deposit is located in the southern Great Xing’an Range. According to the ore types and mineral assemblages, the paragenetic sequence of the Huanggang deposit can be divided into three stages, and these magnetite grains were mainly formed at the retrograde and sulphide skarn stages. The magnetite (sample HG12‐13) from the early retrograde stage is represented by fine‐grained magnetite cutting across coarse‐grained magnetite surrounded by quartz and calcite. The magnetite (sample HG12‐73) from the late retrograde stage is locally replaced by haematite along the margin or interior and is surrounded by calcite. The magnetite (sample HG12‐88) from the early sulphide stage is characterized by obvious core–rim textural features. The magnetite (sample HG‐62) from the late sulphide stage is featured by zone‐like magnetite occurring along the margin and interior of the primary magnetite.
Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry was used to obtain trace element concentrations of magnetite from the different mineralization stages in order to better understand the geochemical variations in the ore‐forming process. Some magnetite grains have abnormally high Mg, Al, K, Cu, Zn, and Sn due to the presence of numerous inclusions (e.g., chlorite, sylvite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, and cassiterite). In general, magnetite grains from the different mineralization stages demonstrate similar bulk continental crust normalized trace elements patterns, suggesting that they share a similar origin. The increasing Si + Al/Mg + Mn ratios and decreasing Mg + Mn contents for magnetite show an increasing fluid–rock ratio from the retrograde to sulphide stage. Co contents of magnetite decrease abruptly from the retrograde stage to the sulphide stage, whereas Mn contents show the reverse trend, which is affected by minerals coprecipitating with magnetite. A zoned magnetite from the sulphide stage shows decreasing Ti and V contents from core to outer rim; the variation of Ti and V may be related to the temperature or oxygen fugacity. Magnetite compositions from the Huanggang deposit are similar to those from Fe, Cu‐polymetallic, or other skarn deposits, but display more variable compositions than previously presented. Our study demonstrates that the evolution of magnetite in the skarn deposit and trace element of magnetite could be a powerful tool in determining the origin of skarn iron deposit.

Formation and development of dunes in the northern Qarhan Desert, central Qaidam Basin, China

The Qarhan Desert in the Qaidam Basin is a high‐elevation geomorphic depression characterized by low temperatures, resulting in an environment similar to those predicted to exist on Mars. As a result, this desert has attracted many aeolian researchers. However, relatively little research has addressed the factors that control dune formation in this region. In this paper, we used observational wind data and sediment characteristics to analyze the formation and development of 3 dune types. The spatial distribution of the Qarhan Desert dune types is controlled by both wind regime and surface characteristics (primarily surface barriers, i.e., yardangs). Linear dunes formed on the leeside of yardangs and became elongated under a bimodal wind regime. The elongation direction of the linear dunes (295°) was similar to the direction of potential sand transport (290° to 296°). Linear dune development experienced different erosion and deposition processes under different climate regimes, and the dunes can be divided into developed and developing linear dunes at present. The movement of developed linear dunes included elongation and lateral movement; however, the movement of developing linear dunes was restricted to elongation. The mean elongation movement rate of the developing and developed linear dunes was approximately 16.87 and 4.84 m/yr, respectively.

Reddening of ~2.5 Ga granitoid by high‐temperature fluid linked to mafic dyke swarm in the Bundelkhand Craton, north central India

The origin of reddening of granitoid is controversial. Red granitoids, occurring spatially with grey granitoids with a thin transitional zone is a volumetrically significant litho‐type in the Bundelkhand Craton, north central India. Using detailed petrography and microstructure study, and phase compositions and elemental X‐ray maps, we demonstrate for the first time that pervasive infiltration of Fe‐Mg‐Na‐K‐rich fluid caused re‐equilibration of ~2.5 Ga grey monzogranite during both brittle and ductile deformation in the craton. The reddening of granitoid is attributed to replacement and precipitation of tiny Fe‐rich particles in porous feldspars by the high temperature Fe‐Mg‐Na‐K‐rich fluid (~950°C), plausibly from crust–mantle depths.
The Fe‐Mg‐Na‐K‐rich fluid with high to moderately high FeO (≤27 wt%), MgO (≤19 wt%), Al2O3 (≤20 wt%), Na2O (<1.59 wt%), K2O (<2.74 wt%), low CaO, (≤0.28 wt%), and FeO/MgO (<1) occurs as discrete interconnected network of green colour veins in the rock. We infer that the veins filled with green‐coloured material along deep shear planes/mylonitic fabric in granitoids and grain boundaries and fractures of felsic minerals (feldspar and quartz) acted as highly permeable network conducive for pervasive fluid activity in the area that influence the normative mineralogy of granitoids yielding pyroxene in the norm. Replacement of original K‐feldspar by plagioclase (albitization), and again by K‐feldspar (K‐feldspathization) by deep fluid took place during which Al2O3 was broadly conserved, with no significant gain or loss in alkalies, a marginal loss in CaO and, but a huge gain in FeO and MgO. The Fe‐Mg‐Na‐K‐rich fluid (with normative olivine + pyroxene) is responsible for near isochemical subsolidus alteration and replacement–precipitation process of feldspars in granitoids. We suggest that the Fe‐Mg‐Na‐K‐rich fluid is of crust–mantle derivation and could intrinsically be linked to Paleoproterozoic dolerite dyke swarm activity in the craton.

Origins and accumulation processes of the Ordovician gas condensate in the Tazhong area, Tarim Basin, northwest China

Abundant gas condensates have been proven in the Ordovician carbonate reservoirs in the Tazhong area, the centre of the Tarim Basin, where complicated geological evolution and multiple hydrocarbon accumulations have occurred. Property, geochemistry, and stable carbon isotopes of the Ordovician condensate are characterized to identify the oil and gas origins in the Tazhong area. Fluid inclusion data, combined with numerical modelling methods was used to determine petroleum accumulation processes. Our results suggest that oils are characterized by mixed sources, with 64% of contributions from the Middle‐Upper Ordovician (O2+3) source rocks and 36% of contributions from the Lower‐Middle Cambrian (Є1+2) source rocks. Gases are primarily generated from the thermal cracking of pre‐existing oils in the underlying strata, with a small amount derived from kerogen cracking accompanied with oil generation. Three petroleum filling stages are determined, including the filling of the Є1+2‐derived oils during the Late Hercynian period, filling of the O2+3‐derived oils during the Yanshan period and oil‐cracking‐gas charge during the Himalayan period. The accumulation processes and relative contribution ratios of the two source rocks vary among the reservoirs and are mainly related to the transport system. Due to the lack of faults in the regions away from the No. 1 Fault Belt, the Є1+2‐derived oils are difficult to fill into the Ordovician reservoirs through the gypsolyte, and thus the accumulated oils are mainly from the O2+3 source rocks. The percentage of the O2+3‐derived oils is high in the southeast and northwest segments of the No. 1 Fault Belt, but relatively low in the middle segment and the vicinity of the No. 10 Structure Belt. Likewise, the late gas charge intensity is controlled by regionally varying conduit systems. Gas condensate formed in reservoirs with high gas/oil ratios. Otherwise, light oil retains with respect to low gas/oil ratios.

Dike distribution density: Method for quantitative mine targets prediction in the South Alatao Mountains area, NW China

The correlation between dike density and regional‐scale mineralization indicates a fundamental criterion for ore‐forming process. Here, a novel dike distribution density method is formulated for evaluating this correlation and exploring mine targets quantitatively. Three parameters (dike density, dike orientation scatter degree and dike fractal dimension) are proposed to express the degree of irregularity and complexity of dike distribution patterns. This method is applied to the South Alatao Mountains area (China), where the dike swarms show regionally well‐developed density gradients and the mineral deposits are spatially associated with abundant dike swarms. On the basis of this quantitative dike distribution density method, 60% of the deposit targets are delineated in this area. This result indicates that the method is an effective quantification tool for prospecting mine targets. The dike distribution density method is applicable for areas where abundant regional‐scale dike swarms and mineralization occur. It should be considered as an effective and complimentary technique for the common mine prospectivity analysis.

Geochronology, geochemistry, and tectonic implications of Jishou Cretaceous diabase, western Xuefengshan tectonic zone in South China

From the east of the Xuefengshan tectonic zone (XTZ) to the Pacific coast of the South China Block, there exist widespread Mesozoic magmatic rocks, which attract a great deal of attention for their forming mechanism and evolutional history. Among them, the Mesozoic Jishou diabase located at the west of the XTZ is reported in this study. Based on our geochronologic analysis, the diabase has a U–Pb age of 134 ± 2.3 Ma. The diabase belongs to calc‐alkaline series in a SiO2‐K2O diagram and illustrates significant enrichment in light rare earth elements and flat heavy rare earth elements without obvious Eu anomalies. Meanwhile, the diabase has negative εHf(t) and εNd(t) values and higher radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr(t) ratios, suggestive of EM2‐like Sr‐Nd isotopic compositions. The diabase shows high variations in 207Pb/204Pb(t; 15.609–15.671), 206Pb/204Pb(t; 17.943–18.742), and 208Pb/204Pb(t; 38.268–39.302). It is suggested that the Jishou diabase may be generated from the lithospheric mantle in response to the decompression melting accompanied by lithospheric extension during Pacific subduction process. During the Early Cretaceous (145–120 Ma), the upwelling and melting of the mantle occurred under the XTZ, causing intraplate Jishou diabase magma. Subsequently, the significantly descending of the subducted Paleo‐Pacific slab led progressively eastward generation and migration of subduction‐related magmas, resulting in a widespread distribution of igneous rocks in the Cathaysia Block.

Late Triassic‐Early Jurassic abnormal thermal event constrained by zircon fission track dating and vitrinite reflectance in Xishan coalfield, Qinshui Basin, central North China

Xishan coalfield, Shanxi, is located in the northwest of the Qinshui Basin, central North China. It is notable for its varieties of coal rank ranging from high volatile bituminous coals to anthracite as well as having abundant coalbed methane resources. Zircon fission track (ZFT) analyses were carried out on the zircons in 2 Upper Carboniferous and 5 Lower‐Middle Permian sandstones, and vitrinite reflectance of Late Carboniferous and Early Permian coals were measured to determine the timing of thermal events and maximum paleo‐temperatures, which were responsible for coal maturation and coalbed methane generation. Maximum paleo‐temperatures calculated from vitrinite reflectance values reached to about 232 and 223 °C in Late Carboniferous and Early Permian coals, respectively, and the estimated paleo‐temperature gradient was 11.84 °C/100 m, representing an intensive abnormal thermal event. Results of the ZFT dating indicated that 5 samples failed the χ2‐test and 2 samples passed the test. The decomposition results of the 5 samples divided their age populations into 3 periods: (a) older ages (537, 584, and 802 Ma) than sandstones ages, (b) close to or slightly older than their depositional ages (289, 301, and 331 Ma), and (c) younger than the depositional ages (181–215). The 2 samples that passed χ2‐test yield the central ages of 168 ± 7 Ma and 190 ± 8 Ma, respectively, younger than the deposition age. The close to or older ages than the sandstones depositional ages represent the tectonothermal events occurring in their source areas; the younger ages indicate the existence of the postdepositional tectonothermal event. The agreement of the partly annealing temperature zone (210–300 °C) of zircon fission tracks with the calculated maximum paleo‐temperatures from vitrinite reflectance suggests a Late Triassic‐Early Jurassic abnormal thermal event with the formation time of the present coal rank being 181–215 Ma, rather than a unique intrusion at 95–135 Ma on the western margin of coalfield as previously believed. Combined with other ZFT ages regionally, this abnormal event also occurred in the southern as well as the northern parts of the Qinshui Basin. The Late Triassic‐Early Jurassic intensive extension in the North China Craton is the geodynamic setting of this tectonothermal event.

Volcanic rocks distribution and basement structure in western–central Junggar Basin revealed by gravitational and magnetic data

The Junggar Basin is a large superimposed basin with multistage evolution. The Carboniferous volcanic rock in the middle‐lower part of the basin has been an important target of oil and gas exploration. Therefore, it is crucial to establish a set of efficient methods and techniques to find out the distribution of the Carboniferous volcanic rock and the tectonic factors related to the reservoir forming of the volcanic rock. Our research reveals that the density and magnetism of the Carboniferous volcanic rock are obviously higher than those of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks. With a series of frequency domain filters and boundary enhancement techniques, we determine the residual gravitational and magnetic anomalies caused by the Carboniferous volcanic rock. Combined with borehole and seismic data from the studied areas, the horizontal and vertical distributions of the Carboniferous volcanic rock are defined, and the lithologies of different types of volcanic rocks are predicted. Furthermore, the gravitational and magnetic anomalies are used to estimate the basement faults and topography. The regional deep faults and their secondary faults of the basement are outlined, and the model of basement relief is constructed. Finally, the effects of the fracture structure and the basement topography in the process of volcanic activity and hydrocarbon accumulation are fully discussed. These results provide fundamental information for optimal selection of the favorable area of volcanic reservoir.