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Remotely constraining the temporal evolution of offshore oil systems

Corrick, Alexander J.; Selby, David; McKirdy, David M.; Hall, Philip A.; Gong, Se; Trefry, Christine; Ross, Andrew S.

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Alexander J. Corrick

David Selby

David M. McKirdy

Philip A. Hall

Se Gong

Christine Trefry

Andrew S. Ross


An understanding of the temporal evolution of a petroleum system is fundamental to interpreting where hydrocarbons may be trapped in the subsurface. However, traditional exploration methods provide few absolute constraints on the timing of petroleum generation. Here we show that 187Re/187Os geochronology may be applied to natural crude oil seepage to determine when petroleum generation occurred in offshore sedimentary basins. Using asphaltites collected from the South Australian coastline, our determined Re-Os age (68 ± 15 million years ago) is consistent with their derivation from a Late Cretaceous source rock in the nearby Bight Basin, an interpretation similarly favoured by source-specific biomarker constraints. Furthermore, the calculated initial 187Os/188Os composition of the asphaltites, a value inherited from the source rock at the time of oil generation, suggests that the source rock represents the later stage of Oceanic Anoxic Event 2. Our results demonstrate a new approach to identifying the origin of crude oils encountered in coastal environments by providing direct constraints on the timing of petroleum generation and potential source rock intervals in poorly characterised offshore sedimentary basins prior to exploratory drilling.


Corrick, A. J., Selby, D., McKirdy, D. M., Hall, P. A., Gong, S., Trefry, C., & Ross, A. S. (2019). Remotely constraining the temporal evolution of offshore oil systems. Scientific Reports, 9(1), Article 1327.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 13, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 4, 2019
Publication Date Feb 4, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 13, 2019
Journal Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number 1327


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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International<br /> License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or<br /> format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Te images or other third party material in this<br /> article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the<br /> material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the<br /> copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit<br /> © The Author(s) 2019.

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