Rotational reflectance of dispersed vitrinite provides superior documentation of thermal maturity and a capability for interpreting relative timing between thermal and kinematic events in Arkoma Basin strata characterized by vitrinite reflectances up to 5%. Rotational reflectance (R(rot)) is a more precise and less ambiguous index of thermal maturity than maximum (R'(max)), minimum (R(min)), and random (R(ran)) reflectance. Vitrinite reflectance anisotropy becomes sufficiently large to be measurable (using a microscope equipped with an automated rotating polarizer) at ???2% R(rot) and increases following a power function with increasing thermal maturity. Rotational reflectance data can be used to infer the shape of the vitrinite reflectance indicating surface (i.e. indicatrix) and, in turn, to enhance interpretations of the timing between thermal maxima and compressional tectonic events. Data from three wells in the Arkoma Basin Ouachita frontal thrust belt are used as examples. The absence of offsets in measured R(rot) across thrust faults combined with a predominance of uniaxial vitrinite in the thrust faulted part of the section suggest thermal maximum postdated thrust faulting in the western Ouachita frontal thrust belt of Oklahoma. In contrast, the general absence of offsets in measured R(rot) across thrust faults combined with a predominance of biaxial vitrinite in the thrust faulted part of the section suggest that the thermal maximum was coeval with thrust faulting in the eastern Ouachita frontal thrust belt of Arkansas. The presence of biaxial vitrinite in an allochthonous section and uniaxial vitrinite in an underlying, autochthonous section suggests that the thermal maximum was coeval with listric thrust faulting in the central Arkoma Basin of Oklahoma, and that rotational reflectance data can be used as a strain indicator to detect subtle decollement zones.
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Rotational reflectance of dispersed vitrinite from the Arkoma basin