Improving spatial predictability of petroleum resources within the Central Tertiary Basin, Spitsbergen: A geochemical and petrographic study of coals from the eastern and western coalfields

Jacob O. Uguna, Andrew D. Carr, Chris Marshall, David J. Large, Will Meredith, Malte Jochmann, Colin E. Snape, Christopher H. Vane, Maria A. Jensen, Snorre Olaussen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Central Tertiary Basin (CTB) coals from a variety of palaeogeographic conditions within the Longyear and Verkhnij seams, were sampled to assess the relationship between the petroleum present, the remaining generation potential and coal geochemistry in order to improve the spatial predictability of petroleum resources within the basin. Vitrinite reflectance (VR) values from the CTB coals have been shown to be suppressed (Marshall et al., 2015b). This study attempts to quantify and correct for this suppression effect by applying the Lo (1993) method (LoVR), which uses Hydrogen Index (HI) values to modify VR data, and the coal Rank(Sr) scale of Suggate (2000, 2002), a technique not affected by suppression. In addition, the oil generation and expulsion thresholds for the CTB coals were investigated, with discussions on oil potential versus marine influence upon the mires in which the coals formed. A pseudo-van Krevelen diagram shows that the majority of the coals plot on the Type II kerogen line, while the remainder plot between the Types II and III kerogen lines, with HI between 151 and 410mgHC/g TOC; however, maceral analysis shows that Type III kerogen predominates. This is attributed to the presence of abundant fluorescing (oil-prone) vitrinites. The LoVR, Tmax and Rank(Sr) parameters all show that maturity increases from basin margins towards basin centre (i.e. from Bassen to Lunckefjellet, to Breinosa and Colesdalen) and indicate that all the coals are within the oil generation window. The marginal samples at Bassen are within the early mature stage of the oil window (i.e. ~0.7% RO); meaning the threshold for oil generation in the basin could not be clearly defined. However, the observed maturation trend somewhat parallels the maturation pathway of the New Zealand Coal Band (NZ Coal Band) and the “envelope” of the Sykes and Snowdon (2002) NZ coal data-set; therefore, it is considered that the oil generation threshold for the CTB coals is likely at Rank(Sr) ~9–10, Tmax~420–430°C in line with the observed rise in Bitumen Index (BI). Some of the Lunckefjellet coals and all the Breinosa and Colesdalen coals have either reached or progressed beyond the threshold for oil expulsion as indicated by the peak in HI at Rank(Sr) ~11–12, LoVR ~0.75–0.85% RO, Tmax~430–440°C. The peak in BI at Rank(Sr) ~12.5–13.5 suggests that some of the Lunckefjellet and Breinosa coals, and all the Colesdalen coals have reached the “effective oil window”. Total sulphur (ST) contents range between 0.46 and 12.05% indicating non-marine to strong marine influence upon precursor peats, with ST contents of the Longyear seam appearing to record instances of coastal retreat associated with base level rise. Marine deposition seems to significantly control the distribution of oil-prone coals within seams and across the CTB. The levels of marine influence (as indicated by ST content) show clear positive relationships between BI and HI within the Bassen samples because they have not started expelling oil. Conversely, the levels of marine influence show clear negative relationships with BI and HI within the Colesdalen samples because they have commenced oil expulsion, and probably reached the “effective oil window”. The more marine influenced coals appear to have commenced petroleum generation relatively earlier, which is a plausible explanation why the coals from the Lunckefjellet locality appear to be at different stages within the oil window.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)278-294
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
    Early online date22 Jun 2017
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jun 2017


    • Oil-prone coal
    • Perhydrous vitrinite
    • Maturity
    • VR
    • LoVR
    • Rank()
    • Suppression
    • Generation
    • Expulsion
    • Todalen member
    • Spitsbergen


    Dive into the research topics of 'Improving spatial predictability of petroleum resources within the Central Tertiary Basin, Spitsbergen: A geochemical and petrographic study of coals from the eastern and western coalfields'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this