Tracing the geochemical imprints of Maastrichtian black shales in southern Tethys, Egypt: Assessing hydrocarbon source potential and environmental signatures

Douaa Fathy, Alireza Baniasad, Ralf Littke, Mabrouk Sami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study conducted comprehensive bulk and molecular geochemical analyses, as well as elemental investigations, on seventeen black shale samples collected from the Upper Cretaceous sediments on the western margin of the Red Sea. The primary objective is to assess the hydrocarbon generation potential, maturity, source input, biodegradation levels, and depositional environment characteristics within the Lower Maastrichtian interval near the Safaga area. Lower Maastrichtian black shales demonstrate very good to excellent source rock generative potential based on pyrolysis data. The prevalent kerogen type in the older black shale at the Heweitat mine is Type II, whereas within the younger units at the Queih mine, it predominantly exhibits Type II/III kerogen. These Maastrichtian black shales remain thermally immature, as evidenced by vitrinite reflectance (VRr < 0.5%), pyrolysis data, and biomarker proxies. The studied black shales show that the organic matter input comprises bacterial and algal biomass with minor terrigenous contributions. Additionally, there is no evidence of significant biodegradation in the studied samples based on molecular fossils data. Microscopic analysis and various bulk and molecular characteristics, in conjunction with major and trace element profiles, collectively indicate a marine depositional environment with oxygen-deficient bottom water conditions during source rock deposition. The presence of isorenieratene and aryl isoprenoids suggests persistent and episodic photic zone anoxia during the Maastrichtian period. Elevated nutrient inputs and paleobioproductivity were recorded in the older black shale at the Heweitat mine compared to the younger one at the Queih mine. Paleoproductivity and oxygen depletion emerge as pivotal factors influencing the accumulation and preservation of organic matter within the black shales. These findings provide valuable insights into the environmental conditions prevailing during the deposition of Maastrichtian sediments in the Eastern Desert.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104457
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Volume283
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 23 2024

Keywords

  • Anoxia
  • Biodegradation
  • Biomarkers
  • Cretaceous
  • Eastern Desert
  • Organic matter
  • Organic petrology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy

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