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CHARACTERISTICS AND ACCUMULATION OF MIDDLE JURASSIC OIL SHALE IN THE YUQIA AREA, NORTHERN QAIDAM BASIN, NORTHWEST CHINA.

1. Introduction

Oil shale deposits in China range widely in age from the Late Paleozoic to the Cenozoic, while Mesozoic oil shale resources are most abundant, accounting for 84% of the country's total oil shale resources [1]. The Jurassic and Cretaceous were the most important periods of oil shale accumulation, while Middle Jurassic oil shale deposits are mostly distributed in western China and Cretaceous oil shale is distributed in eastern China. Previous exploration and studies mainly focused on Cretaceous oil shale in the Upper Cretaceous Songliao and Lower Cretaceous Luozigou and Laoheishan basins; the characteristics, depositional environment and metallogenic mechanism of oil shale in these basins have been thoroughly investigated by a number of scholars [2-7]. However, little research on the characteristics and accumulation of Middle Jurassic oil shale has been reported [8, 9].

The Qaidam Basin is the third largest inland basin of China, and covers approximately 250,000 [km.sup.2]. It has attracted attention because of abundant salt, natural gas and coal resources [10, 11] and is the seventh largest oil shale-bearing basin in China with total Middle Jurassic oil shale resources of 16.8 billion tons [12]. The Yuqia oil shale-bearing area, which is situated in the central part of the northern Qaidam Basin, has abundant oil shale resources. However, little exploration has currently been undertaken for oil shale resources in this vast area, likely due to a poor understanding of the characteristics and accumulating mechanisms of oil shale therein.

The aim of the present research was to systematically study the geo-chemical and industrial characteristics of Middle Jurassic oil shale in the Yuqia area of the northern Qaidam Basin. Another goal was to investigate the climatic conditions and sedimentary environment of oil shale accumulation, and then further reveal the factors controlling the distribution and quality of oil shale. This study will improve the understanding of the accumulation mechanism of Middle Jurassic oil shale in the northern Qaidam Basin, and further promote oil shale exploration in the area.

2. Geological setting

The Qaidam Basin is located at the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau in Northwest China (Fig. 1a). It is offset by the NEE-striking strike-slip Altyn Tagh Fault in the northwest, cut by the NW-striking strike-slip Elashan Fault in the east, and bounded by the Northern Kunlun Fault in the south (Fig. 1b). The Qaidam Basin is a Mesozoic and Cenozoic intra-continental basin that developed on the Precambrian crystalline basement [13]. The tectonic division of the northern Qaidam Basin is divided into the northern fault block belt (I) in the west and the Delingha Depression (II) in the east. The basin is also composed of multiple mosaic-distributed secondary structural belts, depressions and bulges (Fig. 1c) [14, 15].

The Yuqia oil shale-bearing area is situated in the Yuqia-Hongshan Depression in the central part of the northern fault block belt, between the Qilian and Luliang Mountains, and has an area of 500 [km.sup.2] (Fig. 1c). The Middle Jurassic (coal and oil shale-bearing) stratum is up to 1 km thick, comprising Dameigou and Shimengou Formations, of which, the latter is the main oil shale-bearing layer. This formation is divided into the Lower Coal-bearing Member and the Upper Shale Member. The Coal-bearing Member is dominated by gray-gray black siltstone, silty mudstone and carbonaceous shale and is intercalated with coal seams (M1-M5), while coal seam M5 is recoverable throughout the area. The overlying Shale Member is composed of brown, dark gray shale and oil shale in the lower part and grayish-green mudstone and siltstone in the upper part (Fig. 1d).

3. Materials and methods

The fully cored borehole YYY-1 was drilled in 2015 in the western part of the Yuqia oil shale-bearing area. Bulk organic geochemical, Fischer assay (FA) and proximate analyses were performed in the depth intervals of 330-390 m and 470-562 m, using a composite samples representative for a 1-m-thick interval. In addition, 53 point samples were chosen for inorganic geochemical analysis and 16 point samples were collected for polished section preparation. The samples were mostly oil shale, coal, mudstone, silty mud-stone and siltstone.

Fischer assay oil yield (wt%), Rock-Eval parameters, total organic carbon (TOC, wt%) and sulfur content were determined and proximate analysis was performed at the Key-Lab for Oil Shale and Paragenetic Minerals of Jilin Province, Changchun, China. Oil yield gained from low-temperature carbonization at approximately 520 [degrees]C was measured using a Chinese Fushun retort, by FA. The mixture of oil and water was extracted from oil shale by heating, and the content of oil was obtained by weighting the water distilled from the mixture. Afterwards, the oil yield was calculated from the total weight. TOC was measured using a Leco CS-230 elemental analyzer on samples pre-treated with concentrated HCI. Rock-Eval pyrolysis was carried out employing a Rock-Eval 6 instrument. With this method, the quantity of pyrolyzate (mg HC/g rock) generated from kerogen during gradual heating in a helium stream is normalized to TOC to give the hydrogen index (HI, mg HC/g TOC). The temperature of maximum product generation ([T.sub.max]) serves as a maturation indicator. Ash yield, moisture and volatile contents as well as gross calorific value were determined following Chinese standard methods GB/T 212-2008 [16] and GB/T 213-2008 [17]. A polished section was used for microscopic investigations. Maceral analysis was performed employing a single-scan method [18], with a Leica MPV microscope using reflected white and fluorescent light.

Major element oxide and trace element contents were determined using a Philips PW2404 X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer and a Thermo Scientific X-Series high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS) at the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, China, following the criteria of Chinese national standards GB/T 14506.28-93 [19] and DZ/T 0223-2001 [20], respectively.

4. Characteristics of oil shale

4.1. Lithological characteristics

The oil shale of the Shimengou Formation in the Yuqia area is a mudstone-type oil shale. It is mainly gray-brown, gray-black or black in colour, and has developed flat and massive beddings. This high-quality oil shale can be ignited directly. Shell and fish fossils can be observed in it.

Two types of rock associations between oil shale-bearing layers can be identified. one is revealed by that gray black-black oil shale, which is distributed in the Lower Coal-bearing Member of the Shimengou Formation ([J.sub.2][sh.sup.1]) (Fig. 2), mostly occurs with black coal and gray-black carbonaceous shale. The other consists in that gray-brown oil shale, which is distributed in the Upper Shale Member of the Shimengou Formation ([J.sub.2][sh.sup.2]) (Fig. 3), occurs together with dark gray mudstone, silty mudstone and siltstone.

4.2. organic geochemical characteristics

4.2.1. Bulk geochemical parameters

Bulk geochemical data about the studied oil shale samples are given in Table 1.

4.2.1.1. Coal-bearing Member ([J.sub.2][sh.sup.1])

High ToC values were measured in the oil shale sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1], ranging from 13.8 to 48.8 wt% (average 25.6 wt%) (Table 1, Fig. 2a). The hydrogen index (HI) values varied between 267 and 385 mg HC/g ToC (Fig. 2b). Plots of HI vs [T.sub.max], HI vs oxygen index (OI), and [S.sub.2] vs ToC show that the oil shale comprises Type [II.sub.2] kerogen (Fig. 4), having a certain contribution of terrestrial organic matter (oM). [T.sub.max] values varied between 424 and 429 [degrees]C, reflecting that the rock is immature.

4.2.1.2. Shale Member ([J.sub.2][sh.sup.2])

The ToC content of the oil shale sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] was significantly lower than that of the sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1], varying from 1.76 to 13.7 wt% (average 8.0 wt%) (Table 1, Fig. 3 a). At the same time, HI was typically between 511 and 982 mg HC/g ToC (Table 1, Fig. 3b), being higher than that of the sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1]. Most samples plot in the fields that are characteristic for Type I and [II.sub.1] kerogens (Fig. 4), indicating the predominance of lacustrine oM. [T.sub.max] values varied between 429 and 442 [degrees]C, suggesting that the oil shale is immature or at the low-maturity stage of thermal evolution.

4.2.2. organic petrography

The component variation of terrigenous organic matter and the sum of vitrinite, inertinite, sporinite, resinite, cutinite, fluorinite, and alginite (the sum of lamalginite and telalginite, Table 2) are plotted respectively in Figure 2c and Figure 3c-d.

Oil shale, dark mudstone and coal samples were selected for organic maceral analysis in this study. The rocks were shown to differ in oM type. The oil shale samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] were characterized by the relatively high contents of alginite (average 46 vol%) and biturninite (average 25 vol%) (Fig. 3d-e). Lamalginite predominates over telalginite in the majority of oil shale samples. Lamalginite may originate from assemblages of algae and bacteria. Telalginite includes solitary and colonial algae [21]. Biturninite may be decomposed from algae, plankton and bacterial lipids. Black mudstone samples were mostly composed of terrigenous OM (83-97 vol%) (Fig. 3c). Sporinite (average 50 vol%) and vitrinite (average 23 vol%) are dominating (Table 2). This indicates that aquatic organisms were the primary producers of OM during the deposition of oil shale in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2], whereas the mixture of aquatic and terrigenous OM was the dominant primary producer of black mudstone.

Almost all samples of oil shale, coal and mudstone from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] were predominated by terrigenous OM (> 95 vol%) (Fig. 2c). The most abundant OM component was vitrinite (average 84 vol%), while coal samples stood out with its highest percentage, 97 vol% (Table 2).

4.3. Industrial quality characteristics

Oil yield, and ash, moisture and sulfur contents, as well as calorific value and density are key parameters for oil shale resource evaluation and utilization [12].

4.3.1. Oil yield

FA oil yields of the two oil shales were different. The oil yield of oil shale of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] varied from 4.7 to 10.4 wt%, the highest yield (10.4 wt%) was obtained from the sample from the 1-m thick layer 3 (Fig. 2d). The oil yield of oil shale of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] was slightly lower, ranging from 3.79 to 9.17 wt%. The highest oil yield (9.17 wt%) was obtained from the sample from the 1-m thick oil shale layer 10, with a total thickness of 16 m (Table 1, Fig. 3f).

Plots of oil yield vs TOC of all samples of oil shale, mudstone, coal and carbonaceous shale showed a strong positive correlation with [R.sup.2] of 0.89 in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1], and a moderate positive correlation with [R.sup.2] of 0.62 in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2]. These results indicate that the samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] with TOC > 14.1 wt% can be considered oil shale (FA > 3.5wt%), and the samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] with TOC > 4.8 wt% can also be considered oil shale (FA > 3.5wt%). Therefore, TOC can serve as a valuable alternative indicator of the oil yield of oil shale from the Yuqia area.

4.3.2. Ash content

Oil shale ash is the residue deriving from the rock inorganic and organic matter during combustion. Ash content is an important indicator to distinguish between oil shale and coal. The ash content of Chinese oil shale is generally less than 40 wt% [12]. The oil shale sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] had an ash yield from 31.7 to 67.2 wt% (average 52.3 wt%) (Table 1, Fig. 2e), therefore it can be considered low-ash oil shale. Conversely, the ash yield of the oil shale sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] was between 62.9 and 84.1 wt% (average 74.7 wt.%) (Table 1, Fig. 3g), and thus this rock can be regarded as high-ash oil shale.

4.3.3. Moisture content

Moisture content is a basic parameter to assess the feasibility of oil shale mining, processing and combustion. When its moisture content is higher than 25 wt%, oil shale should be dried in advance, which will increase production costs. According to moisture content, oil shales can be divided into high- (> 20-30 wt%), medium- (10-20 wt%) and low-moisture (< 10 wt%) oil shales [22]. The moisture content in the oil shale samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] ranged from 1.59 to 4.85 wt% (Table 1, Fig. 2f), which is slightly higher than the 1.38-2.76 wt% range in those from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] (Table 1, Fig. 3h), however, both can be considered low-moisture oil shales.

4.3.4. Calorific value

Calorific value is an important parameter to evaluate the combustion value of oil shale [12]. As seen from Table 1, the calorific values of oil shale samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] and [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] varied from 7.43 to 28.5 MJ/kg and from 1.87 to 5.36 MJ/kg, respectively (Fig. 2g, Fig. 3i).

4.3.5. Sulfur content

Sulfur content refers to the sum total of the contents of all types of sulfur in oil shale, including organic and inorganic sulfur. During combustion, organic sulfur is nearly entirely emitted into the atmosphere as aerosols and gaseous products of flue gas emissions. SOx emissions may have a noxious effect on air, water and living organisms, including humans [23]. Thus, sulfur content is an important indicator for evaluating the potential environment pollution during the utilization of oil shale [12]. The sulfur content of the oil shale sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] varied between 0.23 and 1.27 wt%, indicating the rock to be a low-medium sulfur oil shale, while the sulfur content of the sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] was very low, ranging from 0.16 to 0.74 wt%, indicating it to be a low-sulfur oil shale (Table 1, Fig. 2h, Fig. 3j).

4.3.6. Density

Density is a key parameter to calculate oil shale resources. As seen from Table 1, the densities of oil shale samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] and [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] slightly differ, being from 1.11 to 2.22 g/[cm.sup.3] and from 1.81 to 2.13 g/[cm.sup.3], respectively.

In summary, the industrial-quality oil shale sample from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] has a medium-high oil yield, low ash and moisture contents, and low-medium calorific value and sulfur content, whereas that from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] is characterized by a low-medium oil yield, high ash content, and low moisture and sulfur contents and calorific value.

5. Depositional environment and its control over oil shale accumulation

5.1. Paleoclimatic conditions

Paleomagnetic data show that the Qaidam Basin was located in the north latitude 8.8[degrees] during the Early Middle Jurassic [24]. The pollen assemblage was dominated by Inaperturopollenites, Psophosphaera and Cyathidites, and the Classopollis content was decreased, indicating that the vegetation was subtropical mixed forest [25].

The chemical index of alteration (CIA = [[Al.sub.2][O.sub.3]/([Al.sub.2][O.sub.3] + CaO* + [Na.sub.2]O + [K.sub.2]O)] X 100) and a similar index ([CIA.sub.(molar)] = [[Al.sub.2][O.sub.3].sub.(molar)]/([Cao*.sub.(molar)] + [Na.sub.2][O.sub.(molar)] + [K.sub.2][O.sub.(molar)]) can be used to reflect paleoclimatic conditions [26, 27]. In these equations all values are in molar proportions. Cao* represents the amount of Cao incorporated into the silicate fraction of the rock. It is calculated using the equation Cao* = Cao - (10/3 X [P.sub.2][O.sub.5]) to correct CIA for [P.sub.2][o.sub.5] (apatite). If the result of the mole fraction of Cao is greater than that of [Na.sub.2]O, then CaO* is equal to [Na.sub.2]o. otherwise, CaO* is equal to CaO [26]. Generally, CIA values between 65 and 85 correspond to a warm and humid climate, whereas values between 85 and 100 correspond to a hot and humid tropical and sub-tropical climate [24].

Plots of [CIA.sub.(molar)] and [Al.sub.2][o.sub.3] and [K.sub.2]o/[Na.sub.2]O of samples indicate that the oil shale of the Shimengou Formation was deposited in a subtropical climate (Fig. 5). The CIA values of samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] were between 75 and 94 (average 84) (Table 3), and the vertical curve reflects two climatic cycles from a hot-humid to warm-humid climate (Fig. 6b). Coal and high-quality oil shale in layer 3 (oil yield 10.35 wt%), layer 4 (oil yield 6.99 wt%) and layer 5 (oil yield 9.3 wt%) (CIA 75-82) were deposited in a warm and humid climate, whereas poor-quality oil shale in layer 1 (oil yield 4.71 wt%) and layer 2 (oil yield 4.63 wt%) was accumulated in a relatively hot and humid climate (Fig. 6a-b). The CIA values of samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] varied from 74 to 85 (average 80) (Table 3), also implying a stable warm and humid paleoclimate. The values gradually decreased with an increase in oil yield from bottom to top (Fig.7a-b), indicating that the climate during the deposition of high-quality oil shale (layer 10) was warmer and more humid than during the accumulation of poor-quality oil shale.

These results suggest that climatic conditions controlled oil shale accumulation. In a warm and humid climate, significant runoff deposited sufficient nutrients into a lake, which was of benefit to the growth and reproduction of a variety of biological organisms. The lake's primary productivity was greatly increased, providing plenty of organic matter for oil shale formation. In addition, climate could also control lake level changes by influencing the balance between evaporation and recharge of lake water, to regulate the distribution and thickness of oil shale. The varying climate during the deposition of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] caused lake level fluctuations, resulting in the deposition of thin layers of oil shale and coal. In contrast, the stable warm and humid climate during the accumulation of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] formed thick layers of oil shale.

5.2. Sedimentary environment

Based on core observations and sedimentary facies analysis, the sedimentary evolution of the Shimengou Formation in the Yuqia area was revealed. During the depositional period of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1], the Yuqia area was dominated by fan delta and lacustrine sediments. The deposits in the area adjacent to the basin center are fan delta plain, fan delta front and shallow lake, respectively (Fig. 8). The oil shale generally contacts coal at the top and base, mainly deposited in a limnic environment (Fig. 2). [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] consists of sediments deposited in a lacustrine depositional system (Fig. 8), and is characterized by thick oil shale and dark mudstone with flat bedding (Fig. 3). oil shale mainly developed in a semi-deep lake environment.

The sedimentary environment also controlled the distribution and thickness of oil shale. The varying sedimentary environment and limited limnic area of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] led to the uneven distribution of oil shale occupying small separate areas and being of small thickness. In contrast, the stable semi-deep lake environment of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] produced oil shale layers which are widely distributed across the region and are of greater thickness.

5.3. origin of organic matter and paleoproductivity

organic macerals and Rock-Eval data show the organic matter of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] oil shale to be Type II2 kerogen (Fig. 4) of predominantly terrigenous origin (Fig. 2c), indicating that terrigenous detrital matter was the primary producer of OM of this oil shale. In contrast, the organic matter of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] oil shale is mainly Type I and II1 kerogens (Fig. 4) and derived from aquatic organisms, including alginite and biturninite (Fig. 3d-e), which suggests that its formation was mostly influenced by lake paleoproductivity.

The trace element Ba generally has a positive correlation with the accumulation rate of organic carbon and paleoproductivity [28]. The Ba/Al ratio can, to a certain extent, mirror the amount of plankton of a geological period, indirectly reflecting lake paleoproductivity. Usually, a Ba/Al ratio between 100 and 120 suggests high paleoproductivity [29]. The Ba/Al ratio of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] oil shale varied from 96.6 to 337.7 (Table 3), reflecting a high paleoproductivity during deposition, while the paleoproductivity reached maximum during deposition of high-quality oil shale (layer 10) (Fig. 7c). These data give evidence of a close relationship between oil shale OM abundance and lake paleoproductivity. A higher productivity can result in the eutrophication of lake water, which is advantageous to the rapid spread of algae and other aquatic organisms, providing a good material basis for oil shale formation.

5.4. Lake water environment

5.4.1. Water salinity

Trace elements Sr and Ba and their ratio have proved to be good indicators of lake water salinity [30]. Generally, the Sr/Ba ratio in fresh water sediments is lower than 1, and in marine sediments, higher than 1. At the same time, in lacustrine environments without seawater intrusion, a Sr/Ba ratio between 0.5 and 1 refers to brackish water, while a value exceeding 1.0 is indicative of salty lake water in an arid climate [31, 32]. In [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1], the Sr/Ba ratio varied from 0.15 to 1.09, and a vertical curve is shown as two cycles changing from fresh to brackish water (Fig. 6c). High-quality oil shale and coal (Sr/Ba 0.5-0.94) were deposited in brackish water, whereas poor-quality oil shale (Sr/Ba 0.16-0.35) was deposited in fresh water (Fig. 6a and 6c). In the lower part of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2], at a depth of 380 to 350.23 m, the Sr/Ba ratio is very low, between 0.16 and 0.20 (Table 4, Fig. 7d), and implies a fresh water environment. The ratio starts to increase toward the top of oil shale layer 11 (from 350 to 330 m), being for the majority of samples higher than 0.5, which signifies a brackish to salt water environment (Table 3, Fig. 7d).

In addition, the Ca/(Ca + Fe) ratio is also sensitive to changes in paleosalinity. A Ca/(Ca + Fe) > 0.8 implies salt water, and a value of 0.4-0.8 is a sign of brackish water. A ratio < 0.4 suggests fresh water [33]. The Ca/(Ca + Fe) ratio in the samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] also varied (Fig. 6d). The respective values of high-quality oil shale and coal samples were from 0.42 to 0.5, reflecting a brackish water environment, and those of poor-quality oil shale samples were between 0.14 and 0.27, indicating a fresh water environment (Fig. 6a and 6d). Similarly to Sr/Ba, the Ca/(Ca + Fe) ratio in the samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] was also very low at a depth from 380 to 352 m, all the values being lower than 0.4 (0.05-0.11), but the values increased toward the top and mostly exceeded 0.5 (Fig. 7a and 7e), reflecting that the lake water changed from fresh to brackish-salt.

These data indicate that high-quality oil shale and coal in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] and [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] were deposited in a brackish to salt water environment, whereas poor-quality oil shale was deposited in a fresh water environment.

5.4.2. Redox conditions

Trace element ratios such as V/(V + Ni) and Cu/Zn have also been used as indicators to distinguish the redox environment. Generally, V/(V + Ni) ratios higher than 0.60 reflect anoxia, those between 0.46 and 0.60 mirror oxygen-depleted conditions, and ratios below 0.46 represent the oxic environment [34, 35]. The Cu/Zn ratio increases with decreasing oxygen availability [35]. V/(V + Ni) ratios of samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] ranged from 0.46 to 0.88 (average 0.74) (Table 4, Fig. 6e), implying an anaerobic environment. The Cu/Zn curve shows vertically three cycles, and the values for mudstone to oil shale samples in each cycle gradually increase, which is indicative of a step-by-step increase of reducing water (Fig. 6f). V/(V + Ni) ratios in the samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] were between 0.64 and 0.77 (average 0.71) (Table 4, Fig. 7f), while the Cu/Zn ratio increased with increasing oil yield (Fig. 7a and 7g). These data suggest that all samples from [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] and [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] were deposited in an anaerobic environment, and the reduction of lake water was stronger during deposition of high-quality oil shale.

The aforementioned trace element proxies show that water salinity and redox conditions control the preservation of organic matter. Brackish-salt water can easily form salinity stratification, making bottom water an anaerobic environment. In the anaerobic environment, the activity of microorganisms and benthos is suppressed, and the degradation speed of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria is decreased, which remarkably contributes to OM preservation and high-quality oil shale formation.

6. Conclusions

Two oil shale sequences were identified in the Lower Coal-bearing Member and Upper Shale Member of the Middle Jurassic Shimengou Formation in the Yuqia area of the northern Qaidam Basin, Northwest China. Bulk geo-chemical and proximate analyses revealed that the characteristics and accumulation conditions of the two types of oil shales were different.

1. Oil shale in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] mostly occurs with coal and carbonaceous shale. This oil shale with a high total organic carbon content (average 25.6 wt%) is dominated by Type [II.sub.2] kerogen (terrigenous organic matter). The oil shale of industrial quality has a medium-high oil yield (up to 10.4 wt%), low ash and moisture contents, and low-medium calorific value and sulfur content.

2. oil shale in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] mostly occurs together with dark gray mudstone, silty mudstone and siltstone. Having a medium TOC content (average 8.0 wt%), this oil shale is dominated by Type I and [II.sub.1] kerogens (alginite and bituminite). The industrial-quality oil shale has a low-medium oil yield (up to 9.17 wt%), high ash content, and low moisture and sulfur contents and calorific value.

3. Major elements ([A1.sub.2][O.sub.3], [K.sub.2]o/[Na.sub.2]O, [CIA.sub.(molar)], CIA) and sedimentary facies analyses indicate that oil shale in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] was deposited in a limnic environment in a climate varying from warm-humid to hot-humid, whereas oil shale in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] was deposited in a semi-deep and deep lake environment in a stable warm-humid climate.

4. Typical trace element ratios (Sr/Ba, Ca(/Ca + Fe), V/(V + Ni), Cu/Zn) suggest that high-quality oil shale and coal in [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] and [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] were deposited in anaerobic, brackish to salt water, whereas poor-quality oil shale was deposited in fresh water.

5. Climatic conditions may control the quality, distribution and thickness of oil shale by influencing the formation of organic matter and the sedimentary environment. The stable warm and humid climate of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] easily formed a deep lake environment, benefiting lake paleoproductivity and depositing a thick layer of oil shale over a large area, whereas a varied climate and unstable limnic environment during the deposition of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1] resulted in high terrigenous detrital matter input and the deposition of thin layers of oil shale over a small area. Under this scenario, high paleoproductivity during deposition of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.2] (or high terrigenous detrital matter input during deposition of [J.sub.2][sh.sup.1]) and strong water salinity stratification were responsible for the accumulation of high-quality oil shale.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Professor of Engineering, Li Yonghong, from Qinghai Bureau of Coal Geological Exploration in Xining, Northwest China, for help in collecting the geological material and performing the field work in the Yuqia area. This research was supported by the China Geological Survey Scientific Research Project (1211302108025-3). The authors would also like to thank the two reviewers for their suggestions and comments that significantly improved the quality of the manuscript.

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Presented by Ma Yue and A. Soesoo

Received April 25, 2017

QINGTAO MENG (a,b)(*), ZHAOJUN LIU (a,b)(*), PINGCHANG SUN (a,b), YINBO XU (c), FENG LI (c), YUEYUE BAI (a,b), WENQUAN XIE (a,b), SHUO DENG (a,b), SHUO SONG (a,b), KEBING WANG (a,b), CHUAN XU (a,b)

(a) College of Earth Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun 130061, China

(b) Key-Lab for Oil Shale and Paragenetic Minerals of Jilin Province, Changchun 130061, China

(c) Center of Oil and Gas Resources Survey, China Geological Survey, Beijing 100029, China

(*) Corresponding authors: e-mail mengqt@jlu.edu.cn; liuzj@jlu.edu.cn

doi: https//doi.org/10.3176/oil.2018.1.01
Table 1. organic geochemical and industrial characteristics of oil
shale in the northern Qaidam Basin

Formation                          Oil shale layer  Depth, m  Thickness,
                                                              m

Shimengou Formation  Shale Member  11               335-337    2
                                   10               340-356   16
                                    9               358-362    4
                                    8               364-365    1
                                    7               370-371    1
                                    6               375-376    1

                     Coal-bearing   5               478-479    1
                     Member
                                    4               494-495    1
                                    3               543-544    1
                                    2               551-552    1
                                    1               553-554    1

                     TOC, wt%             HI, mg HC/g TOC
Formation            Min.--max.  Average  Min.--max.

Shimengou Formation  1.76-4.97    3.36    544
                     4.01-13.7    9.46    626-982
                     5.92-8.22    6.99    511
                     -            6.44    593
                     -            4.14    688
                     -            4.15    -

                     -           33.5     -

                     -           16.8     267
                     -           48.8     -
                     -           15.15    385
                     -           13.8     -

                     [T.sub.max],[degrees]C   Oil yield (FA), wt%
Formation            Min.--max.                Min.--max.  Average

Shimengou Formation  429                       3.79-4.24    4.02
                     430-441                   3.80-9.17    6.18
                     435                       4.35-7.5     5.37
                     437                       -            3.75
                     435                       -            3.71
                     -                         -            4.02

                     -                         -            9.3

                     424                       -            6.99
                     -                         -           10.35
                     429                       -            4.63
                     -                         -            4.71

                     Gas and loss, wt%   Ash, wt%     Water, wt%
Formation            Min.--max.          Min.--max.   Min.--max.

Shimengou Formation   0.99-2.33          75.74        1.38
                      1.38-4.49          62.9-81.0    1.86-2.76
                      1.05-3.08          82.02-84.14  2.12-2.59
                      1.58               -            -
                      1.28               -            -
                      4.35               83.54        1.59

                      4.69               33.17        3.86

                      5.37               31.66        4.85
                      8.19               64.16        2.12
                     13.76               65.07        1.59
                      4.12               67.17        2.17

                     Volatile, wt%  Fixed carbon, wt%  Calorific value,
                                                       MJ/kg
Formation            Min.--max.     Min.--max.         Min.--max.

Shimengou Formation  23.00           0.04               2.92
                     15.62-35.18     0.01-0.62          3.54-5.36
                     13.26-14.53     0.01-1.33          2.39-3.33
                     -               -                  -
                     -               -                  -
                     14.77           0.11               1.87

                     59.32           3.64              18.80

                     34.86          28.62              19.02
                     28.23           5.49              28.50
                     21.17          12.17               8.36
                     18.77          11.88               7.43

                     Sulfur, wt%
Formation            Min.--max.  Density, g/[cm.sup.3]

Shimengou Formation  --          --
                     0.16-0.74   1.81-2.13
                     0.18        1.99
                     -           -
                     -           -
                     -           -

                     1.27        2.17

                     -           -
                     0.90        1.11
                     -           -
                     0.23        2.22

Note: "--" represents no data.

Table 2. organic petrology and vitrinite reflectance data about samples
from the Shimengou Formation, Yuqia area, northern Qaidam Basin

Stratum       Sample  Lithology        Depth, m

              OP-1    Black oil shale  336.5
              OP-2    Black oil shale  342.5
              OP-3    Black oil shale  346.2
              OP-4    Black oil shale  347.2
              OP-5    Black oil shale  348.8
Shale Member  OP-6    Black oil shale  353.6
              OP-7    Black oil shale  356.5
              OP-8    Black mudstone   373.5
              OP-9    Black mudstone   385.9
              OP-10   Black mudstone   387.8
              OP-11   Gray mudstone    405.4
              OP-12   Gray mudstone    410.7
              OP-13   Black oil shale  479.0
Coal-bearing  OP-14   Black coal       546.7
Member        OP-15   Black coal       548.7
              OP-16   Black mudstone   560.8

Stratum       Alginite, vol%, mmf
              telalginite  lamalginite

              33.74         9.20
               0.00        39.92
               2.04        30.55
               9.59        28.98
               4.57        32.18
Shale Member   6.87        69.31
               1.57        44.03
               1.27         1.27
              12.82         3.42
              10.17         0.00
              12.64         0.00
               3.31         0.00
               1.85         0.00
Coal-bearing   1.78         0.00
Member         0.43         0.00
               2.20         0.00

Stratum       Terrigenous organic matter, vol%, mmf
              sporinite  cutinite  fluorophor  vitrinite  inertinite

              49.08       3.07     1.23         0.61       0.00
               1.38       0.00     0.20         6.92       1.58
              36.66       4.89     4.07         8.76       2.24
               8.28       0.44     0.87         0.00       1.09
               2.19       0.55     0.18        10.79       1.28
Shale Member   4.08       0.43     0.21        13.73       2.58
              22.33       8.81     3.46         7.86       1.89
              75.95       1.27     3.80        15.19       1.27
              58.12      17.09     1.71         4.27       1.71
              18.40      15.98     6.05        39.23       6.54
              31.77       4.38     0.00        40.52      10.05
              66.23       6.62     5.96        13.91       3.31
               9.76      13.46     2.11        70.45       2.37
Coal-bearing   1.39       0.00     0.00        94.65       2.18
Member         0.22       0.00     0.00        96.97       2.38
              11.58       2.99     1.00        73.15       6.09

Stratum       Bituminite,  Vitr.
              vol%, mmf    refl., %Rr

               3.07        0.61
              50.00        -
              10.79        -
              50.76        0.61
              48.26        -
Shale Member   2.79        -
              10.06        0.55
               0.00        -
               0.85        -
               3.63        -
               0.65        -
               0.66        -
               0.00        -
Coal-bearing   0.00        -
Member         0.00        -
               2.99        0.55

Note: "--" represents no data; mmf - momentomagnetic force; Vitr.
refl. - vitrinite reflectance.

Table 3. Typical major elements and respective ratios of samples from
the Shimengou Formation, Yuqia area, northern Qaidam Basin

Sample                Depth,  [SiO.sub.2],  [Al.sub.2][o.sub.3],
                      m       %             %

Shale Member
Y1                    335.7   22.82          9.27
Y2                    336.5   24.7           9.96
Y3                    337.6   45.66         17.48
Y4                    338.6   45.55         17.37
Y5                    340.7   29.25         10.81
Y9                    343     26.62          7.58
Y10                   344     29.18          9.30
Y11                   345.9   25.13          8.48
Y12                   347.2   21.1           4.99
Y13                   348.8   54.14         17.14
Y14                   350.23  41.44         10.65
Y16                   352.5   51.52         17.18
Y17                   353.6   49.64         14.92
Y18                   355.2   51.78         17.82
Y20                   358.3   54.95         18.89
Y21                   360.3   53.39         18.53
Y23                   364.7   53.89         19.33
Y24                   368.3   54.07         21.27
Y25                   370.1   53.77         20.88
Y28                   374.23  47.19         19.77
Y30                   377.7   45.86         20.38
Coal-beairing Member
Y-32                  469.2    8.9           3.94
Y34                   479      3.72          1.79
Y37                   494.7    3.12          1.87
Y40                   503.2   59.5          23.76
Y43                   516.8   58.28         22.78
Y44                   524.3   53.87         22.31
Y46                   534.3   48.43         21.17
Y49                   547.7    1.44          1.19
Y51                   552.7   47.11         28.42
Y52                   556.7   28.42         15.00

Sample                CaO,   [Na.sub.2]O,  [K.sub.2]O,  Ca/Fe+
                      %      %             %            Ca

Shale Member
Y1                    19.94  0.25          1.10         0.75
Y2                    16.08  0.26          1.21         0.71
Y3                     7.61  0.35          2.20         0.55
Y4                     9.08  0.37          2.16         0.61
Y5                    18.23  0.32          1.35         0.72
Y9                    19.47  0.44          1.12         0.85
Y10                   19.57  0.44          1.22         0.82
Y11                   23.74  0.35          1.07         0.87
Y12                   31.73  0.36          0.73         0.87
Y13                    0.80  0.80          2.52         0.16
Y14                   11.70  0.53          1.36         0.73
Y16                    0.67  0.74          2.35         0.10
Y17                    0.79  0.80          2.04         0.15
Y18                    0.49  0.68          2.24         0.10
Y20                    0.54  0.63          2.39         0.11
Y21                    0.48  0.67          2.47         0.06
Y23                    0.39  0.58          2.69         0.06
Y24                    0.51  0.51          2.54         0.11
Y25                    0.35  0.50          2.62         0.07
Y28                    0.62  0.43          2.08         0.05
Y30                    0.61  0.35          2.27         0.05
Coal-beairing Member
Y-32                   0.34  0.18          0.28         0.50
Y34                    3.22  0.14          0.13         0.47
Y37                    0.19  0.15          0.14         0.08
Y40                    0.20  0.23          2.92         0.08
Y43                    0.21  0.22          2.64         0.05
Y44                    0.30  0.26          2.39         0.10
Y46                    0.61  0.18          2.25         0.04
Y49                    0.30  0.10          0.04         0.42
Y51                    0.16  0.15          1.16         0.14
Y52                    0.39  0.23          1.04         0.27

Sample                Ba/Al  CIA  [CIA.sub.(molar)]

Shale Member
Y1                    190.7  82    4.58
Y2                    187.8  82    4.59
Y3                    107.4  83    4.96
Y4                    108.1  83    4.89
Y5                    117.1  81    4.29
Y9                    290.6  74    2.86
Y10                   322.1  77    3.37
Y11                   192.5  79    3.69
Y12                   337.7  72    2.55
Y13                   137.3  76    3.20
Y14                   205.0  77    3.32
Y16                   160.5  78    3.45
Y17                   126.3  75    3.07
Y18                   100.5  80    4.02
Y20                   121.2  80    4.11
Y21                   122.5  80    3.98
Y23                   110.8  81    4.22
Y24                   104.8  83    4.80
Y25                   105.1  83    4.84
Y28                   103.4  84    5.39
Y30                    96.6  85    5.65
Coal-beairing Member
Y-32                  -      82    4.49
Y34                   -      75    2.95
Y37                   -      75    2.98
Y40                   -      86    6.06
Y43                   -      86    6.36
Y44                   -      87    6.46
Y46                   -      87    6.97
Y49                   -      77    3.33
Y51                   -      94   16.16
Y52                   -      89    7.93

Note: "--" represents no data.

Table 4. Typical trace elements and respective ratios of samples from
the Shimengou Formation, Yuqia area, northern Qaidam Basin

Sample               Depth,  Lithology        V,          Ni,
                     m                        [micro]g/g  [micro]g/g

Shale Member
Y1                   335.7   Oil shale         87.6       40.9
Y2                   336.5   Oil shale         97.4       46.9
Y3                   337.6   Mudstone          89.5       29.4
Y4                   338.6   Silty
                             mudstone          88.1       31.7
Y5                   340.7   Oil shale         90.1       31.1
Y6                   341.7   Oil shale        125         52.8
Y7                   341.9   Oil shale         85.2       34
Y8                   342.48  Oil shale         42.8       17.9
Y9                   343     Oil shale         71.7       26.9
Y10                  344     Oil shale        104         55.3
Y11                  345.9   Oil shale        104         38.8
Y12                  347.2   Oil shale         62.7       31.7
Y13                  348.8   Oil shale        134         53.5
Y14                  350.23  Oil shale         96.4       49.7
Y15                  351.3   Oil shale        112         41.2
Y16                  352.5   Oil shale        137         63.2
Y17                  353.6   Oil shale         84.4       40.8
Y18                  355.2   Oil shale        121         45.6
Y19                  356.5   Siltstone        129         38.7
Y20                  358.3   Oil shale        141         57.7
Y21                  360.3   Oil shale        139         72.8
Y22                  362.5   Mudstone         138         56.3
Y23                  364.7   Oil shale        140         52.1
Y24                  368.3   Siltstone        174         78
Y25                  370.1   Oil shale        190         74.2
Y26                  371.6   Muddy siltstone  144         48.1
Y27                  372.5   Muddy siltstone  153         87.6
Y28                  374.23  Mudstone         151         50.1
Y29                  375.6   Oil shale        163         56.4
Y30                  377.7   Muddy siltstone  155         54.8
Y31                  379.7   Muddy siltstone  149         48.9
Coal-bearing Member
Y33                  476.1   Muddy siltstone  126         27.6
Y34                  479     Oil shale         29.7       34.8
Y35                  482.8   Muddy siltstone  124         55.4
Y36                  492     Mudstone         108         33.3
Y37                  494.7   Oil shale         47.8       19.7
Y38                  497.7   Muddy siltstone   87.5       41.4
Y39                  500.9   Siltstone         87         26
Y40                  503.2   Muddy siltstone   99.5       16.6
Y41                  506.2   Muddy siltstone  149         20.1
Y42                  509     Muddy siltstone   88.3       42.9
Y43                  516.8   Muddy siltstone  102         28.4
Y44                  524.3   Muddy siltstone  102         32.1
Y45                  529.5   Mudstone         118         34.4
Y46                  534.3   Muddy siltstone  132         30.5
Y47                  539.3   Muddy siltstone   98.2       29.3
Y48                  542.84  Oil shale         61.9       30.3
Y49                  547.7   Coal              60.5       18
Y50                  551.7   Oil shale        104         23.2
Y51                  552.7   Silty mudstone   125         57.8
Y52                  556.7   Silty mudstone   109         57.8
Y53                  561.6   Muddy siltstone   89.4       27.6

Sample               Cu,
                     [micro]g/g

Shale Member
Y1                   44.6
Y2                   52.6
Y3                   31.1
Y4
                     31.1
Y5                   33.5
Y6                   61.3
Y7                   34.6
Y8                   16.6
Y9                   37.9
Y10                  51.6
Y11                  45.2
Y12                  23.3
Y13                  75.6
Y14                  49.7
Y15                  52.4
Y16                  69.9
Y17                  42
Y18                  53.2
Y19                  55.6
Y20                  69.4
Y21                  62.8
Y22                  61.2
Y23                  64.4
Y24                  77.6
Y25                  80.3
Y26                  73.1
Y27                  75
Y28                  51.9
Y29                  55.9
Y30                  53.5
Y31                  46.7
Coal-bearing Member
Y33                  36.6
Y34                  11.8
Y35                  21.3
Y36                  45.4
Y37                  27.6
Y38                  38.7
Y39                  36.7
Y40                  38.1
Y41                  30.8
Y42                  29.5
Y43                  32
Y44                  32.6
Y45                  28.3
Y46                  28.3
Y47                  28
Y48                  46.9
Y49                  18.8
Y50                  33.4
Y51                  55.2
Y52                  25.3
Y53                  34.5

Sample                Zn,      Sr,       Ba,      Sr/Ba  V/V+  Cu/Zn
                      [micro]g/g  [micro]g/g   [micro]g/g         Ni

Shale Member
Y1                    58.2     320       468      0.68   0.68  0.77
Y2                    75.6     310       495      0.63   0.67  0.70
Y3                    84.4     178       497      0.36   0.75  0.37
Y4
                      92.2     152       497      0.31   0.74  0.34
Y5                    58.5     170       335      0.51   0.74  0.57
Y6                    80.8     181       500      0.36   0.70  0.76
Y7                    68.4     183       369      0.50   0.71  0.51
Y8                    38.1     243       303      0.80   0.71  0.44
Y9                    47.7     610       583      1.05   0.73  0.79
Y10                   58.2     864       793      1.09   0.65  0.89
Y11                   52.2     276       432      0.64   0.73  0.87
Y12                   31       426       446      0.96   0.66  0.75
Y13                  110       119       623      0.19   0.71  0.69
Y14                   80       292       578      0.51   0.66  0.62
Y15                   92.8     106       518      0.20   0.73  0.56
Y16                  115       125       730      0.17   0.68  0.61
Y17                   69.5      98.5     499      0.20   0.67  0.60
Y18                   92.6      89.4     474      0.19   0.73  0.57
Y19                  104       101       531      0.19   0.77  0.53
Y20                  125       120       606      0.20   0.71  0.56
Y21                  111       115       601      0.19   0.66  0.57
Y22                  114       106       558      0.19   0.71  0.54
Y23                  118        93.7     567      0.17   0.73  0.55
Y24                  137       102       590      0.17   0.69  0.57
Y25                  138       102       581      0.18   0.72  0.58
Y26                  108       115       654      0.18   0.75  0.68
Y27                  123       109       547      0.20   0.64  0.61
Y28                  122        93.7     541      0.17   0.75  0.43
Y29                  124       114       612      0.19   0.74  0.45
Y30                  134        92.9     521      0.18   0.74  0.40
Y31                  122        79.3     510      0.16   0.75  0.38
Coal-bearing Member
Y33                  109        73.9     456      0.16   0.82  0.34
Y34                   52       106       206      0.51   0.46  0.23
Y35                  120        28.8      50.1    0.57   0.69  0.18
Y36                   69.1     101       237      0.43   0.76  0.66
Y37                   25.4     140       274      0.51   0.71  1.09
Y38                  141        70.4     468      0.15   0.68  0.27
Y39                  103        85.4     506      0.17   0.77  0.36
Y40                  130        90.7     502      0.18   0.86  0.29
Y41                  178        69.6     431      0.16   0.88  0.17
Y42                  111       137       383      0.36   0.67  0.27
Y43                  117        72.6     477      0.15   0.78  0.27
Y44                  130       102       483      0.21   0.76  0.25
Y45                   79.7      72.2     494      0.15   0.77  0.36
Y46                   98.7     137       582      0.24   0.81  0.29
Y47                  109       142       566      0.25   0.77  0.26
Y48                   32.6     593      1179      0.50   0.67  1.44
Y49                   31.2     167       177      0.94   0.77  0.60
Y50                   49.5      73.3     359      0.20   0.82  0.67
Y51                   87.1      66.4     286      0.23   0.68  0.63
Y52                   29        40       114      0.35   0.65  0.87
Y53                  110        61.9     383      0.16   0.76  0.31
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Author:Meng, Qingtao; Liu, Zhaojun; Sun, Pingchang; Xu, Yinbo; Li, Feng; Bai, Yueyue; Xie, Wenquan; Deng, S
Publication:Oil Shale
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Mar 1, 2018
Words:9001
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