Because fluid pressures are transient in sedimentary basins over geologic time, the effect of increasing fluid pressure on organic-matter metamorphism is difficult to determine, and conflicting opinions exist concerning its influence. Properly-performed aqueous-pyrolysis experiments can closely simulate hydrocarbon generation and maturation in nature, and thus offer an excellent way to study the influence of pressure. Such experiments, carried out on the Retort Phosphatic Shale Member of the Lower Permian Phosphoria Formation (type II-S organic matter) at different constant temperatures, demonstrated that increasing pressure significantly retards all aspects of organic matter metamorphism, including hydrocarbon generation, maturation and thermal destruction. This conclusion results from detailed quantitative and qualitative analyses of all products from hydrocarbon generation, from the C1 to C4 hydrocarbon gases to the asphaltenes, and also from analyses of the reacted rocks. We have documented that our aqueous-pyrolysis experiments closely simulated natural hydrocarbon generation and maturation. Thus the data taken as a function of pressure have relevance to the influence of normal and abnormal fluid pressures as related to: 1) depths and temperatures of mainstage hydrocarbon generation; 2) the thermal destruction of deposits of gas or light oil, or their preservation to unexpectedly high maturation ranks; and 3) the persistence of measurable to moderate concentrations of C15+ hydrocarbons in fine-grained rocks even to ultra-high maturation ranks. ?? 1992.
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The influence of pressure on petroleum generation and maturation as suggested by aqueous pyrolysis