Coal beds of the Upper Cretaceous Fruitland Formation in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado have significant liquid hydrocarbon generation potential as indicated by typical Rock-Eval Hydrogen Indexes in the range of 200-400 mg hydrocarbon/g organic carbon (type II and III organic matter). Small, non-commercial quantities of oil have been produced from the coal beds at several locations. The oils are characterized by high pristane/phytane (ca 4) and pristane/n-C17 ratios (ca 1.2), abundant C21+ alkanes in the C10+ fraction with a slight predominance of odd carbon-numbered n-alkanes, abundant branched-chain alkanes in the C15+ region, and a predominance of methylcyclohexane in the C4-C10 fraction. The oils are indigenous to the Fruitland Formation coals and probably migrated at thermal maturities corresponding to vitrinite reflectance values in the range 0.7-0.8%. Although the oils found to date are not present in commercial amounts, these findings illustrate the potential of some coals to generate and expel oil under conditions of moderate thermal heating. ?? 1991.
Additional publication details
Oil-generating coals of the San Juan Basin, New Mexico and Colorado, U.S.A.