To better estimate thermal maturity of Devonian shales in the northern Appalachian Basin, eleven samples of Marcellus and Huron Shale were characterized via multiple analytical techniques. Vitrinite reflectance, Rock–Eval pyrolysis, gas chromatography (GC) of whole rock extracts, and GC–mass spectrometry (GCMS) of extract saturate fractions were evaluated on three transects that lie across previously documented regional thermal maturity isolines. Results from vitrinite reflectance suggest that most samples are immature with respect to hydrocarbon generation. However, bulk geochemical data and sterane and terpane biomarker ratios from GCMS suggest that almost all samples are in the oil window. This observation is consistent with the presence of thermogenic gas in the study area and higher vitrinite reflectance values recorded from overlying Pennsylvanian coals. These results suggest that vitrinite reflectance is a poor predictor of thermal maturity in early mature areas of Devonian shale, perhaps because reported measurements often include determinations of solid bitumen reflectance. Vitrinite reflectance interpretations in areas of early mature Devonian shale should be supplanted by evaluation of thermal maturity information from biomarker ratios and bulk geochemical data.
Additional publication details
Thermal maturity of northern Appalachian Basin Devonian shales: Insights from sterane and terpane biomarkers