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Observatory Hill Formation

INTRODUCTION

Excitement followed the discovery of oil in fractures and


vugs in core from Byilkaoora 1 (Benbow and Pitt, 1979; Pitt
et al., 1980; McKirdy and Kantsler, 1980), but it was the
presence of calcite pseudomorphs of trona and shortite that
led initially to extensive mineral exploration in the
northeastern Officer Basin. Comalco drilled 20 cored holes
in the Marla area, nine of which displayed oil shows. Most
of these were from the Observatory Hill Formation but oil
was also found bleeding from calcite veins in the upper
Rodda beds (?Tanana Formation) in Marla 9, and oil was
recovered from the mud pit in Byilkaoora 2. A review of oil
shows from mineral wells is provided by Hibburt et al.
(1995). Woodhouse (in Weste, 1984) suggested the mud pit
oil, though similar to extracts from oil-impregnated core, had
migrated much further.

Oil in the Early Cambrian Observatory Hill Formation


has been described in detail by McKirdy and Kantsler (1980)
and McKirdy et al. (1983, 1984), and a review of all eastern
Officer Basin oils is provided in McKirdy (1993). The
Observatory Hill Formation oil is mainly in the Parakeelya
Alkali Member and Moyles Chert Marker Bed in the Marla
Overthrust Zone; it is non-marine, algal-sourced and partly
biodegraded.
In Byilkaoora 1, the Observatory Hill source rock
maturity, expressed as calculated vitrinite reflectance (VRcalc)
from the methylphenanthrene index (MPI), is VRcalc =
0.991.09%, which is at or just past peak maturity for Type I
kerogen (McKirdy and Michaelsen, 1994). However, sterane
and hopane distributions in Byilkaoora 1 oil suggest
expulsion from a marginally mature source, and VRcalc of the
oil is 0.49% (McKirdy et al., 1984; McKirdy, 1993). The
Byilkaoora 2 mud pit oil is biodegraded as is the EOM in the
host rock, and shows evidence of short distance migration
(Woodhouse in Weste, 1984).

These are clear, macroscopic indications of oil generation


and migration in Neoproterozoic and Cambrian rocks. There
are also microscopic indications of oil migration from both
Cambrian and Neoproterozoic strata. These are reviewed
below with an assessment of the thermal maturity of source
rocks and the timing of hydrocarbon migration.

There is thus sufficient information to show that present


day maturity of the Observatory Hill Formation in the Marla
Overthrust Zone is in the middle oil window. However, the
indigenous oil was generated at a much lower maturity level
and has migrated short distances within the formation. This
can only have been achieved via a fracture network. In
Byilkaoora 1 and 2, bitumen is also present in the
conformably underlying Wallatinna Member.

OIL-SOURCE CORRELATION AND


MATURITY

The thermal maturity of hydrocarbon source rocks is


generally assessed from reflectance measurements of
vitrinite phytoclasts. However, in pre-Devonian rocks
devoid of higher plant material, the distribution of triaromatic
hydrocarbons can be exploited as a measure of the maturity
of oils and source rock extracts. The aromatic maturity of
Officer Basin source rocks has been reviewed by McKirdy
and Michaelsen (1994), and available data are presented in
Table 9.1. Oil shows and oil-source correlations are
discussed briefly below, from the stratigraphically youngest
to the oldest occurrences.

Organic matter was extracted from the Observatory Hill


Formation in stratigraphic well Observatory Hill 1, drilled at
the type section on the Murnaroo Platform. The aromatic
maturity of the sample yielded a VRcalc of 0.94% (McKirdy
et al. in Gatehouse and Hibburt, 1987). The maturity of this
extract is comparable to that of the source rocks in the Marla
Overthrust Zone and suggests that most of the Observatory
Hill Formation is now at peak oil generation.
The identification of ?G. prisca in Ungoolya 1 by Dow
(in Womer et al., 1987) has been mentioned in Chapter 8. The
organism was identified by its C14C20 odd carbon number
predominance. G. prisca, or a precursor, has also been
identified from petrographic examination of telalginite from
the Early Cambrian Ouldburra Formation (Kamali, 1995a).
Assuming the Ouldburra Formation to be the only G. prisca
rich source rock in the eastern Officer Basin, the Ungoolya 1
occurrence is particularly significant because the extract was
taken from the Observatory Hill Formation in an interval
(12011215 m) with poor shows in vugs and very small
vertical fractures in chert laminae displaying light brown to

Trainor Hill Sandstone


The youngest Extractable Organic Matter (EOM) is in the
Trainor Hill Sandstone, only metres below its eroded top in
Marla 10. Cryptomelane (KMn8O16) was identified as the
source of a black stain in the sandstone. A trace of organic
matter was extracted but has not been identified (Watson,
1994a). The EOMcryptomelane association suggests
secondary hydrocarbon migration due to hot groundwater
movement and may be a Tertiary to Recent (500 Ma)
phenomenon (see Apatite fission track analysis).
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Table 9.1 Aromatic maturity data for the Officer Basin (after McKirdy and Michaelsen ,1994; Kamali, 1995a).
Formation

Well

Sample

depth

type

MPI

MPR

(m)

Devonian
Mimili
Formation

VRcalc

VRcalc

VRcalc
%

(a)

(a1)

(b)

Munyarai 1
633.00

extract

1.43

2.78

1.26

1.22

0.98

Byilkaoora 1
262.95
285.00
293.17

extract
extract
oil

0.98
1.16
0.38

1.15
0.87
0.25

0.99
1.09
0.63

0.91
1.03
0.49

1.00
0.88
0.34

Observatory Hill 1
34.14

extract

0.90

0.88

0.94

0.85

0.89

Wilkinson 1
333.07
390.08
461.87

extract*
extract
extract*

0.58
0.83
0.52

0.64
0.45
0.55

0.75
0.90
0.71

0.63
0.80
0.58

0.75
0.60
0.68

Karari 1
263.35

extract

0.38

0.46

0.63

0.49

0.60

Karari 2A
285.50
298.0
298.13

extract
extract
extract*

0.46
0.30
0.34

0.60
0.47
0.38

0.68
0.58
0.60

0.46

0.72
0.62
0.52

(Manya Trough) Marla 3


619.60

extract

1.00

1.24

1.00

0.92

1.03

Marla 6
416.0
671.25

extract
extract

1.43
2.13

1.76
4.98

1.26
1.68

1.22
1.71

1.18
1.63

Marla 7
392.85

extract

1.30

1.92

1.18

1.13

1.22

Manya 6
698.60
1279.15

extract
extract*

1.11
0.85

2.34
1.33

1.07
0.91

1.00
0.82

1.31
1.06

Observatory Hill 1
155.35

oil

1.32

1.46

1.19

1.15

1.10

Neoproterozoic
Tanana
Munyarai 1
Formation
2289.81

extract

1.63

1.38

1.36

Marla 9
209.75
234.83
269.93

extract
extract
extract

0.66
0.68
0.71

0.90
0.73
0.94

0.80
0.81
0.83

0.70

0.89
0.81
0.92

Munyarai 1
2611.83

extract

1.67

1.40

1.39

Murnaroo 1
183.90
190.95

extract
extract

0.64
0.70

0.85
1.0

0.78
0.82

0.87
0.94

Karlaya 1
2093.73
2345.15

extract
extract

0.66
0.37

0.75
0.90

0.79
0.62

0.82
0.89

Lake Maurice West 1


417.7
418.20

extract
extract

0.28
0.29

0.63
0.82

0.57
0.57

0.74
0.86

Lake Maurice West 1


534.14

oil

1.03

1.02

0.94

Lake Maurice East 1


540.83

oil

1.40

1.24

1.20

Giles 1
1237

extract

0.43

1.27

0.66

0.52

1.04

Cambrian
Observatory
Hill Formation

Ouldburra
Formation
(Tallaringa
Trough)

Relief
Sandstone

Karlaya
Limestone

Dey Dey
Mudstone

Murnaroo
Formation

Alinya
Formation

* stained by oil
(a) VRcalc = 0.60 MPI+0.40 (0.65 VR 1.35%)
VRcalc = -0.60 MPI+2.30 (VR >1.35%)
(a1) VRcalc = 0.7 MPI + 0.22 (0.5 VR 1.7%)
(b) VRcalc = 0.99 log10 MPR + 0.94 (0.4 VR 1.7%)

110

Oil bleeds from the Observatory Hill Formation in Byilkaoora 1; core width is 41 mm: (a) alkaline playa sequence, 219.75 m (Photo 44388)
(b) 277.0 m (Photo 44390) (c) 293.0 m (Photo 44391) (d) 295.5 m (Photo 44392) (e) 278.9 m (Photo T15624) (f) 219.45 m (Photo 44389).

111

direction into the Manya and Munyarai Troughs (Fig. 9.1).


New seismic data indicate that the Cambrian is eroded on the
southern Murnaroo Platform (Lindsay, 1995; Lindsay and
Leven, 1996), and the formations intersected in the Hughes
wells are Neoproterozoic.

yellow-gold fluorescence, pale straw cut and slow streaming


bright yellow cut (Henry, 1986). Thus at Ungoolya 1 on the
edge of the Murnaroo Platform, the Observatory Hill
Formation contains traces of live oil, some of which has
migrated from the Early Cambrian Ouldburra Formation, or
some other G. prisca-bearing (?Ordovician) source rock.

Relief Sandstone

Ouldburra Formation
No shows have been recorded from the Ouldburra
Formation during drilling operations. Kamali (1995b)
reported live oil from Marla 6 and Manya 6 in the Manya
Trough, and Karari 1 and 2A in the Tallaringa Trough. These
are microscale shows from organic petrographic studies.
Dead oil and bitumen have been recorded in Marla 3 (Hibburt
et al., 1995) and illustrated by Kamali et al. (1995) who noted
that such material indicates oil migration paths.

No shows have been recorded while drilling the Early


Cambrian Relief Sandstone. Giles 1, when drilled, was
thought to be located on an anticline with the Relief
Sandstone inside closure. Re-mapping by Mackie (1994)
suggested, however, that the southeastern flank of the Giles
structure is faulted and the anticline is open to the east.
Consequently there have been no valid structural tests of the
Relief or any other sandstone reservoir under seal in the
eastern Officer Basin.

Calculated vitrinite reflectances show that the Ouldburra


Formation in the Manya Trough is late mature to overmature
and generally gas-generative (VRcalc = 1.01.68%; McKirdy
and Michaelsen, 1994). However, one sample from 1279 m
in Manya 6 is stained by migrated hydrocarbons and has an
MPI-derived VRcalc of 0.820.91% (Kamali et al., 1993;
Kamali, 1995b; Table 9.1). Interestingly, the stain is in
limestone ~4 m above the top salt bed in this well, thus the
oil can only have migrated laterally.

Bitumen was identified in thin section from the Relief


Sandstone in Observatory Hill 1 (Gatehouse and Hibburt,
1987), with VRcalc from an oil extract of 1.15% (McKirdy and
Watson, 1989). This occurrence is highly significant. The
oil is in a basal Cambrian sandstone but molecular
biomarkers identify the oil with a specific Proterozoic source,
namely the Alinya Formation (see below). The oil is clearly
a product of post-Petermann Ranges Orogeny hydrocarbon
migration from a source rock at peak levels of oil generation.

MPI-derived maturities of Ouldburra Formation samples


from the Wilkinson and Karari wells in the Tallaringa Trough
are significantly lower (VRcalc = 0.580.68%, Table 9.1) and
the unit is mature for oil generation. As a result of their lower
maturity, organic macerals are more readily distinguished, in
particular lamalginite and talalginite, which display evidence
of active oil expulsion into microfractures and veinlets
(Kamali, 1995a,b). These samples are from present depths
<300 m, whereas samples from the Ouldburra Formation in
Wilkinson 1 (65 km northeast) at similar depths are slightly
more mature (VRcalc = 0.710.90%; Table 9.1).

Cambrian maturity mapping


A preliminary iso-reflectance map of Cambrian aromatic
maturity is shown on Figure 9.1. Potential source rocks in
the Ouldburra and Observatory Hill Formations are restricted
to the eastern part of the basin. Based on available data, two
areas, the Munyarai and Manya Troughs, are overmature and
are therefore in the gas zone. A region south of the Watson
High on the Murnaroo Platform is designated as immature
and seismic data show that Cambrian strata have not been
preserved to the southwest (Lindsay, 1995). Sparse data
suggest that the Birksgate Sub-basin, west of the Nurrai
Ridge, is relatively immature (McKirdy and Kantsler, 1980,
p.83, fig. 15).

McKirdy and Michaelsen (1994) have suggested that


regional maturity of the Ouldburra Formation increases
southwest towards Hughes 2 on the Murnaroo Platform
(VRcalc = 0.99% at 243 m in Hughes 2). However, it is more
likely that the maturity of the Ouldburra Formation increases
in the opposite direction in the Tallaringa Trough (i.e. towards
the northeast), and also increases in a generally northwards

The bulk of the eastern Officer Basin ranges from initially


mature in the southern Tallaringa Trough to mature on the
southwestern margin of the Munyarai Trough. Although
there is not much evidence, the region between Emu 1 and

Oil staining in Relief Sandstone at 161.5 m in Observatory Hill 1: Left: UV fluorescence (Photo 44386) Right: transmitted white light (Photo
44387). Field of view for both images is 0.5 mm.

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Giles 1 appears more mature than the Ammaroodinna Ridge


and its extension into the Marla Overthrust Zone. Faults in
the latter region were reactivated by the Devonian Alice
Springs Orogeny, whereas the Giles structure is a product of
the older Petermann Ranges Orogeny. Whether this maturity
contrast is related to the age difference between these
structures, or due to greater uplift and erosion of the Marla
Overthrust Zone after the Alice Springs Orogeny, is not clear.

KarlayaDey Dey boundary, both formations are regarded as


part of the same source rock package.

Mudstone

Bleeds from small, disconnected vugs with patchy to pin


point bright yellow fluorescence were recorded in Karlaya
Limestone core from Karlaya 1 (Dunster, 1987b).
Fluorescence was also noted in very thin sandstone beds in
the upper Dey Dey; extracts from the upper Dey Dey (depth
20942345 m) gave VRcalc = 0.820.89%. In Lake Maurice
West 1 (depth 418 m), the Dey Dey Mudstone yielded VRcalc
= 0.740.86%, and the Karlaya Limestone in Murnaroo 1
(depth 184191 m) gave VRcalc = 0.870.94% (Table 9.1).

Oil shows have been recorded in the Tanana Formation,


Karlaya Limestone and upper Dey Dey Mudstone
immediately beneath. Since most of these shows span the

These values indicate that the KarlayaDey Dey source


rock package is early mature on the Murnaroo Platform.
Maturity increases into the Munyarai Trough, since VRcalc in

Tanana Formation, Karlaya Limestone and Dey Dey

Fig. 9.1 Eastern Officer Basin Cambrian aromatic maturity. Contours represent vitrinite reflectance calculated from methylphenanthrene
index.

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Proterozoic maturity mapping

the Devonian Mimili Formation is 0.98% and in the Karlaya


Limestone (depth 2612 m) is 1.4% in Munyarai 1 (McKirdy
and Michaelsen, 1994; Table 9.1).

A preliminary iso-reflectance map of Neoproterozoic


aromatic maturity is shown on Figure 9.2. No source rocks
exist in the easternmost parts of the basin where
Mesoproterozoic basement underlies Neoproterozoic or
Cambrian sedimentary rocks at shallow depths. Like the
Cambrian map, it is a hybrid of VRcalc values from two
distinct oil families in samples taken over a wide depth range.
Both maps are thus highly interpretive.

A Proterozoic oil show was recorded while drilling


Marla 9 in the Marla Overthrust Zone over an interval
tentatively correlated with the Tanana Formation (depth
245287 m). The show comprises oil bleeds from fractures
partly cemented by calcite. VRcalc of extracts from 210 to
270 m depth is 0.810.92%. Weak bleeds were also reported
from the Dey Dey Mudstone (depth 328 m). Marla 9 is not
in the Manya Trough as McKirdy and Michaelsen had
assumed, hence its maturity is not anomalously low, although
it is somewhat lower than nearby Cambrian values.
Byilkaoora 1 is the only other well to have intersected the
Neoproterozoic in the Marla Overthrust Zone; no shows were
recorded in this part of the section.

Overmature, gas-prone conditions are indicated for the


Manya and Munyarai Troughs and the Ammaroodinna and
Middle Bore Ridges. Iso-reflectance contours are displaced
to the south and west compared to Cambrian contours, thus
the northern Murnaroo Platform is at a peak stage of oil
generation. No maturity data exist for the Birksgate
Sub-basin or Tallaringa Trough. Basement from refraction
seismic investigation could be 800 m below the drilled
Cambrian section in the Tallaringa Trough (Milton, 1975).
The Cambrian aromatic maturity values suggest that any
underlying Proterozoic source rocks are likely to be within
the oil window. The Neoproterozoic samples from Marla 9
indicate that the Marla Overthrust Zone is within the oil
window. Similarly, results from Hughes 2 suggest that the
southwestern Murnaroo Platform is oil mature.

The KarlayaDey Dey oil is marine and its distinctive


sterane distribution links it to green algal precursors. Similar
sterane distributions are found in Neoproterozoic oils from
Oman and Siberia (McKirdy, 1993).

Murnaroo Formation
The Proterozoic Murnaroo Formation is a potential
reservoir, not a source rock. As with the Cambrian Relief
Sandstone, thin sections from Lake Maurice West 1 (depth
534576 m) were oil stained and small quantities of oil were
subsequently extracted from drillcore. VRcalc of the EOM is
0.941.20% and it has a similar maturity and composition to
residual hydrocarbon from the Relief Sandstone in
Observatory Hill 1 (McKirdy and Watson, 1989). Thus, two
wells 60 km apart on the Murnaroo Platform contain oil from
a common source in sandstone reservoirs of Proterozoic and
Early Cambrian age.

THERMAL MATURITY
There are few usable bottom-hole temperature records
from eastern Officer Basin wells. Drillstem test temperatures
from Lairu 1 (40.6C at 1090 m) and Munta 1 (73.3C at
1981 m) indicate a low to average present-day geothermal
gradient ranging from 14 to 24C/km. However, this basin
has had a complex history of subsidence and uplift, and
present-day geothermal gradients may not apply to
conditions prior to the Neogene.

The Murnaroo and Relief shows are perhaps the most


significant in the Officer Basin.

To better understand the thermal history of the eastern


Officer Basin, apatite fission track analysis (AFTA) and fluid
inclusion geothermometry have been carried out on a small
sample population. In addition, vitrinite reflectances were
measured on Permian phytoclasts from several wells in order
to provide some constraints on Palaeozoic thermal history.
The results presented below have far-reaching consequences
for geohistory modelling.

Alinya Formation
It was McKirdy (1993) who recognised that biomarker
distributions (hopanesterane and diasteranesterane ratios;
McKirdy and Watson, 1989) point unequivocally to the
Alinya Formation as the source of the MurnarooRelief oil
shows. This constitutes a second family of Neoproterozoic
oil, as confirmed from extracts of the Alinya Formation in
Giles 1. VRcalc from core in this well (depth 12371266 m)
yields a value of 1.04% (McKirdy and Michaelsen, 1994;
Table 9.1). The calculated maturity is comparable to
maturities calculated for extracts from the Relief Sandstone
(1.15%) and Murnaroo Formation (0.941.20%), suggesting
that the Alinya Formation was the source of this oil, which
must have migrated after deposition of the Relief Sandstone.
Moussavi-Harami and Gravestock (1995) suggested that oil
migration took place after burial beneath thick Ordovician
sediments.

Permian vitrinite reflectance


In their search for economic coal deposits, Comalco
drilled eight holes in the Permo-Carboniferous Arckaringa
Basin near the northwestern margin of the Boorthanna
Trough (Bourke and Senapati, 1983). Cuttings from two of
these holes, 42 km southeast of Manya 2 (Fig. 9.1), were
sampled for coal from the Permian Mount Toondina
Formation at depths ranging from 187 to 216 m. Measured
vitrinite reflectance (VRmeas), organic petrology and VRcalc
from MPI were recorded (Watson, 1994b). Further measured
VR and petrographic descriptions were obtained from core
samples of the Mount Toondina and Boorthanna Formations
(255497 m) in Manya 2, and the Cretaceous Bulldog Shale
and Mount Toondina Formation (62 and 360 m, respectively)
in Mount Willoughby 1 (Tingate, 1994).

Because the same biomarker assemblage has been found


in the Bitter Springs Formation of the Amadeus Basin (Zang
and McKirdy, 1994), the oil source facies was probably very
widespread and was certainly far richer organically than the
meagre Giles 1 data would suggest.
114

In Manya 2, measured VR varies from 0.35 to 0.51%,


which is inconsistent with the present depth of the samples.
The degree of gelification of telovitrinite in samples from the
Mount Toondina Formation suggests a cover of not less than
1.21.5 km since Permian deposition (Keiraville Konsultants
in Tingate, 1994), pointing to a greater depth of burial in
Mesozoic time.

methylphenanthrene index of 0.75. This is considerably


higher than the measured vitrinite reflectance of 0.330.50%
on adjacent samples, pointing to suppression of vitrinite
reflectance due to the presence of hydrogen-rich macerals
(Hutton and Cook, 1980; Keiraville Konsultants in Tingate,
1994). Reflectance suppression of fluorescent lamalginite by
as much as 0.40.5%, compared to VRcalc from MPI, is
evident in source rocks from the Proterozoic McArthur Basin
(Crick, 1992), and a similar problem is encountered in the
Triassic of the North West Shelf (Beardsmore and
OSullivan, 1995).

Measured vitrinite reflectance in the two Comalco coal


drillholes ranges from 0.29 to 0.50%. In these holes and in
Manya 2, the Mount Toondina Formation contains
fluorescing telalginite composed of Reinschia and
Botryococcus-related genera, as well as Tasmanites. Oil
drops are also present. Of greatest interest, however, is the
calculated vitrinite reflectance of 0.85%, corresponding to a

As a result of this phenomenon, the Permian vitrinite


reflectances should be regarded as minimum values and
post-Early Permian burial may have been as high as 2 km in

Fig. 9.2 Eastern Officer Basin Neoproterozoic aromatic maturity. Contours represent vitrinite reflectance calculated from methylphenanthrene index.

115

the vicinity of these wells. It would also appear that the


maturity of Permian source rocks in the Boorthanna Trough
has been underestimated. A technique developed by CSIRO
Division of Petroleum Resources which examines
fluorescence alteration of multiple macerals (FAMM;
Wilkins et al., 1992) will be applied in this region.
Preliminary results indicate VR suppression of 0.1% (N.
Sherwood, CSIRO, pers. comm., 1997). It is noteworthy that
van Neil (1984) first documented fluorescence alteration in
a sample from the Ouldburra Formation in Wilkinson 1.

window for oil generation, oil was not noted in these


inclusions either, oil in vugs and fractures notwithstanding.

Fluid inclusion microthermometry

Apatite fission track analysis

Fluid inclusions were studied in three samples from the


Ouldburra Formation in Manya 6 in the Manya Trough
(Kamali, 1995b). Microthermometry was performed on
inclusions from early calcite cement, late calcite cement,
early dolomite and saddle dolomite in an attempt to
determine palaeotemperature history. The sampled depths
were 889.5, 896.5 and 956.8 m, with the deepest yielding the
majority of inclusions in late calcite and saddle dolomite.

Apatite fission track analysis was carried out by Geotrack


(1994) on sandstone samples from five wells in three
structurally contrasting regions. Wells in the Marla
Overthrust Zone and Manya Trough were predicted to have
thermal histories dominated by the Alice Springs Orogeny,
whereas an older thermal history was expected from cooler,
shallower wells on the Murnaroo Platform. Sandstones in
the Tallaringa Trough were not analysed.

Saddle dolomite from the deepest sample contained fluid


inclusions with four or more homogenisation temperatures
ranging from 163 to 332C, which significantly exceed the
temperature of dolomite crystal formation, and thus have
re-equilibrated.

Apatite yield was excellent from all but the oldest and
youngest samples. The yield from the oldest (Pindyin
Sandstone in Giles 1) was very poor and the Pindyin was
therefore not analysed. Yield was also poor from the Late
Jurassic Algebuckina Sandstone in Manya 2, but good
information was obtained nevertheless. Analytical and
palaeotemperature data (Table 9.2) were interpreted by
Tingate (1994) based on a geothermal gradient of 25C/km,
which was assumed in the absence of measured temperature
data.

It is possible that homogenisation temperatures in the


Byilkaoora samples are related to a much younger (100 Ma)
thermal event revealed by apatite fission track data. All the
fluid inclusions analysed to date are from the structurally
complex Marla Overthrust Zone (Byilkaoora wells) and the
adjacent Manya Trough (Manya 6), and these interpretations
should thus be regarded as preliminary.

Such high temperatures suggest the passage of


hydrothermal brines, but calculated vitrinite reflectance
values of 1.07% (from 698.6 m depth) and 0.91% (from
1279.15 m; oil stained) argue against this hypothesis and also
negate a widespread thermal event (Kamali, 1995b).
Furthermore, salt in this well has not been mobilised, thus the
high temperature data must be treated with caution.

One unexpected outcome of this analysis was the total


thermal annealing of tracks associated with the Alice Springs
Orogeny, regardless of location. Maximum palaeotemperatures in excess of 110C were experienced by the
Relief Sandstone and Murnaroo Formation in Lake Maurice
West 1 during the Late Devonian and Carboniferous, yet this
well is 200 km south of the Musgrave Block. Similarly,
apatites analysed from early Palaeozoic strata beneath the
Pedirka Basin, up to 160 km east of the Musgrave Block,
have experienced the same effect (Tingate in Alexander et al.,
1996). The uraniferous granites beneath the Cooper Basin
were intruded during the Early to Middle Carboniferous and
other thermal events have been recorded as far south as the
Flinders Ranges (Gatehouse et al., 1995). The Alice Springs
Orogeny was evidently associated with high heat flow over
a wide area of northern South Australia, and this is taken into
account for geohistory modelling (see below).

Homogenisation temperatures for early calcite


(3150C) and early dolomite 6068C are consistent
with the entrapment of primary fluid inclusions with
increasing burial. Late calcite (homogenisation
temperature 132170C) may have been precipitated at a
depth exceeding 4 km from a more saline brine which is
consistent with burial beneath a thick OrdovicianDevonian
section prior to the Alice Springs Orogeny. Gravestock and
Sansome (1994) suggested that the Relief Sandstone in
Manya 6 may have been buried to a depth approaching 6 km
beneath an advancing thrust front to account for the degree
of compaction of the sandstone. Modelling (see below)
suggests that a depth of 4.6 km would be sufficient to account
for present-day maturity values.
The absence of hydrocarbons from Ouldburra Formation
fluid inclusions in Manya 6 does not downgrade the source
potential of this unit. Instead, it points to their migration at
some time between the relatively early low-temperature
cements and the relatively late high-temperature cement.

Permian and Jurassic apatites from Manya 2, and older


apatites from other wells (Table 9.2), were heated to 90C
prior to cooling during the Cretaceous (11070 Ma). Tingate
(1994) correctly associated this higher temperature with Late
Permian to Cretaceous burial, and suggested a cover of
1.5 km would be enough to provide conditions suited to the
elevated temperature. Based on measured vitrinite
reflectance suppression, and assuming a lower geothermal
gradient, the interpreted depth of burial is now closer to 2 km,
at least for the Manya Trough and Marla Overthrust Zone.

Two-phase fluid inclusions were also examined by the


Baas Becking Geobiological Laboratory (1983) from the
Parakeelya Alkali Member of the Observatory Hill
Formation in the Byilkaoora wells. These inclusions are in
carbonate pseudomorphs of shortite (an indicator of alkaline
playa environments), and have homogenisation temperatures
in the range 60108C. Even though this is in the thermal

There is also consistent evidence that palaeotemperature


was elevated during the last 50 million years, partly due to
116

Table 9.2 Sample analytical and palaeotemperature data (after Geotrack, 1994; Tingate, 1994).
Well
depth

Strat.
age

Fission
track age

Mean track
length

Standard
deviation

Present1
temp.

(m)

(Ma)

(Ma)

(m)

(m)

(C)

Manya 2
245.5247.7

150130

201.217.6

11.590.34

1.47

31

90

60

Boorthanna
Formation

492.9494.3

290280

27916.2

11.760.15

1.54

37

90

60

Cadney Park
Formation

510516

525518

237.216.8

11.350.25

2.57

38

110

90

70

Manya 6
448.2448.8

525518

236.211.8

11.430.19

1.70

36

110

90

60

1699.61701.2

540520

231.015.9

11.210.64

2.92

68

>110

90

70

Formation

Algebuckina
Sandstone

Cadney Park
Formation
Relief
Sandstone

Maximum
palaeotemperature2
360-300 Ma
50-0 Ma
110-70 Ma

218.826.9

Manya 5
455.1455.5

540-520

216.614.5

11.920.15

1.57

36

110

90

60

Murnaroo
Formation

459459.6

615-600

192.113.1

12.220.28

2.00

37

>110

90

60

Tarlina
Sandstone

1054.51055.8

650-640

238.418.7

11.230.21

2.12

51

>110

90

70

Lake Maurice West 1


217.7218.7
540520

323.619.9

12.120.22

2.32

30

100

90

60

Relief
Sandstone

195.620.8

Relief
Sandstone

488.2488.8

615600

240.214.2

11.980.16

1.68

37

110

90

60

Giles 1
416.6416.9

540520

299.317.4

11.950.18

1.79

35

100

90

60

Tanana
Formation

422.3422.6

585575

251.615.5

12.100.18

1.74

36

110

90

60

Tarlina
Sandstone

1063.41063.8

640615

148.212.6

11.160.19

1.87

51

>110

100

90

Murnaroo
Formation
Relief
Sandstone

233.522.3

139.622.8
1

Calculated assuming a geothermal gradient of 25C/km.


Palaeotemperature estimates have an error of approximately 10C.
Underlined ages are central ages used when sample single grain age data have chi squared probabilities of <50% (see Geotrack (1994) for
further details).
2

thicker Tertiary cover, since eroded. Tingate (1994)


considered the main reason to be hot water flow. Support for
the existence of heated aquifers in Tertiary time comes from
the presence of abundant kaolinite in the Algebuckina
Sandstone (which probably caused the poor apatite yield).
The presence of Liesegang rings in Permian strata also points
to circulation of warm water and suggests the aquifers were
not confined solely to the Jurassic sandstones.

a modular software program developed by Paltech Pty Ltd.


Modelling was undertaken on three wells, each of which has
undergone a differing tectonic history and is located in a
distinct structural setting:
Manya 6 (Manya Trough)
Giles 1 (Ammaroodinna Ridge)
Byilkaoora 1 (Marla Overthrust Zone).

The apatite fission track data are consistent and uniform


enough to constrain palaeotemperatures in the eastern Officer
Basin over the past 300 million years. However,
measurement of thermal events in the preceding 800 million
years of the basins history is elusive, and analysis of this
period is a best guess.

Considerable difficulty was experienced in constraining


maturity models for all wells, with the possible exception of
Manya 6. This has arisen as a result of inadequate
temperature, maturity and kinetic data. Whilst estimates of
the amount and timing of erosion have been addressed by
Moussavi-Harami (1994) and summarised in Table 9.3, an
accurate estimate of the original Rock-Eval properties for
principal source rocks, in particular TOC and HI, has been
hampered largely as a consequence of the complex structural
history and great depths of burial.

GEOHISTORY MODELLING
Geohistory and maturity modelling of the eastern Officer
Basin has been undertaken using version 2.05 of Winbury,
117

Table 9.3 Interpreted amount of sediment lost, selected wells,


Officer Basin (m).
Tectonic event

Manya 6

Continental uplift
1300
Alice Springs Orogeny
2750
Rodingan Event
450
Delamerian Orogeny
1250
Petermann Ranges
Orogeny
770
Sturtian uplift
not reached

Giles 1

Byilkaoora 1

200
100
255
625

1000
500
1735
450

2400
500

1675
1000

log. One attribute of the latter is temperature suppression


through the salt zone in the lower Ouldburra Formation and
upper Relief Sandstone. For the purposes of more accurately
modelling the richest source rock units, the 1 km thick
Ouldburra Formation has been divided into three informal
units, of which the richest source quality is found in the upper
unit (average TOC = 0.82%). Present day maturity zones are
summarised on Figure 9.3 and Table 9.4.
Formations below the Relief Sandstone (in which the well
reached total depth) are reconstructions based on data from
Manya 5.

Source rock packages modelled for the three wells are the
Cambrian Observatory Hill and Ouldburra Formations, and
the Neoproterozoic Karlaya Limestone and Dey Dey
Mudstone. The Alinya Formation was not considered due to
a lack of data. All Rock-Eval parameters for the Early
Cambrian Ouldburra Formation, the most prospective source
unit, are extrapolated from Karari 1 and 2A wells in the
Tallaringa Trough, which still display active oil expulsion.

Source rocks of the upper and middle Ouldburra appear


to have entered the oil window (VRcalc = 0.65%) at ~370 Ma,
just prior to the Alice Springs Orogeny, and the wet gas
window shortly thereafter (~360 Ma). They have remained
in the wet gas window to the present day. Structures which
were in place as a result of the Petermann Ranges and
Delamerian Orogenies could be expected to be charged. By
comparison, the lower Ouldburra Formation source unit
entered the oil window just prior to the Delamerian Orogeny
at ~510 Ma and remainded there until 460 Ma before entering
the wet gas window (VRcalc = 1.0%) just prior to the Alice
Springs Orogeny (~370 Ma). This unit has been in the dry
gas window since the Carboniferous (~315 Ma).

Manya Trough
The thermal and burial history of the Manya Trough is
represented by Manya 6. Modelling of this well is fairly well
constrained by fission track data and a detailed temperature

Fig. 9.3 Geohistory plot, Manya 6.

118

Table 9.4 Hydrocarbon maturity, Manya 6, Manya Trough.

Table 9.5 Hydrocarbon maturity, Giles 1, Ammaroodinna Ridge.

Formation

Formation

VRcalc
(%)

Post-Devonian
<0.65
Cadney Park Member,
upper and middle
1.0
Ouldburra Formation
Lower Ouldburra Formation, 1.6
Relief Sandstone,
Murnaroo Formation*,
Tarlina Sandstone*

Maturity
window
Immature (oil)

Depth
(m subsea)
Surface

Wet gas

~175

Dry gas

~944

VRcalc
(%)

Observatory Hill Formation, <0.65


Cadney Park Member,
Relief Sandstone,
0.65
Tanana Formation,
Karlaya Limestone Member,
Dey Dey Mudstone,
Murnaroo Formation,
Meramangye Formation,
Tarlina Sandstone,
Alinya Formation,
Pindyin Sandstone,
Tarlina Sandstone

* Not penetrated.

Ammaroodinna Ridge
The thermal and burial history of the Ammaroodinna
Ridge is represented by Giles 1. Modelling of this well is
poorly constrained and draws heavily on heatflow
constructed for Manya 6. Present-day maturity zones are
summarised on Figure 9.4 and Table 9.5.

Maturity
window
Immature
(oil)
Mature
(oil)

Depth
(m subsea)
Surface
~123

immature largely as a result of significantly reduced


depositional rates on the Ammaroodinna Ridge.

Marla Overthrust Zone

The entire Precambrian succession at the Giles 1 location


entered the oil window at ~570 Ma, prior to the Petermann
Ranges Orogeny, and has stayed there until the present day.
The Dey Dey MudstoneKarlaya Limestone source rock
package is presently just within the oil window (VRcalc =
0.7%). By comparison, the Cambrian succession remains

The thermal and burial history of the Marla Overthrust


Zone is represented by Byilkaoora 1. There is no bottom hole
temperature data for this well and a regional geothermal
gradient of 25C/km is assumed. Only one VRcalc value was
available (1.0% at 200 m) and heatflow modelling has been
drawn from Manya 6; the pre-Narana Formation stratigraphy

Fig. 9.4 Geohistory plot, Giles 1.

119

is a reconstruction below total depth. Present-day maturity


zones are summarised on Figure 9.5 and Table 9.6.

The Dey Dey MudstoneKarlaya Limestone source rock


package entered the oil window at ~570 Ma, and the wet gas
window at ~550 Ma before passing into the dry gas window
between ~490 and 475 Ma during the Delamerian Orogeny.
More significantly, source rocks of the Observatory Hill
Formation appear to have remained within the oil window
from ~450 Ma (i.e. post Delamerian Orogeny) until the
present day which may account for the highly degraded
nature of the oil recovered from bleeds in the core.

Table 9.6 Hydrocarbon maturity, Byilkaoora 1, Marla Overthrust


Zone.
Formation

VRcalc
(%)

Trainor Hill Sandstone,


<0.65
Apamurra Formation,
Arcoeillinna Sandstone,
Observatory Hill Formation,
Cadney Park Formation
upper Narana Formation
1.0
lower Narana Formation,
1.6
Tanana Formation*,
Karlaya Limestone*,
Dey Dey Mudstone*,
Murnaroo Formation*,
Meramangye Formation*,
Tarlina Sandstone*

Maturity
window

Depth
(m subsea)

Mature
(oil)

Surface

Wet gas
Dry gas

~100
~700

* Not penetrated.

Fig. 9.5 Geohistory plot, Byilkaoora 1.

120