The Spiro Sandstone, a natural gas play in the central Arkoma Basin and the frontal Ouachita Mountains preserves excellent porosity in chloritic channel-fill sandstones despite thermal maturity levels corresponding to incipient metamorphism. Some wells, however, show variable proportions of a late-stage, non-syntaxial quartz cement, which post-dated thermal cracking of liquid hydrocarbons to pyrobitumen plus methane. Temperatures well in excess of 150°C and possibly exceeding 200°C are also suggested by (i) fluid inclusions in associated minerals; (ii) the fact that quartz post-dated high-temperature chlorite polytype IIb; (iii) vitrinite reflectance values of the Spiro that range laterally from 1.9 to ≥ 4%; and (iii) the occurrence of late dickite in these rocks. Oxygen isotope values of quartz cement range from 17.5 to 22.4‰ VSMOW (total range of individual in situ ion microprobe measurements) which are similar to those of quartz cement formed along high-amplitude stylolites (18.4–24.9‰). We favour a model whereby quartz precipitation was controlled primarily by the availability of silica via deep-burial stylolitization within the Spiro Sandstone. Burial-history modelling showed that the basin went from a geopressured to a normally pressured regime within about 10–15 Myr after it reached maximum burial depth. While geopressure and the presence of chlorite coats stabilized the grain framework and inhibited nucleation of secondary quartz, respectively, stylolites formed during the subsequent high-temperature, normal-pressured regime and gave rise to high-temperature quartz precipitation. Authigenic quartz growing along stylolites underscores their role as a significant deep-burial silica source in this sandstone.
Additional publication details
High-temperature quartz cement and the role of stylolites in a deep gas reservoir, Spiro Sandstone, Arkoma Basin, USA