The Replacement of Sandstones by Uraniferous Hydrocarbons: Significance for Petroleum Migration

John Parnell and Paul Eakin
Department of Geology, Queen's University, Belfast BT7 1NN, U.K.

Abstract: Hydrocarbons (bitumens sensu lato) in sandstones have been recorded in several instances to have partially replaced their host rock, including quartz grains. Many replacive hydrocarbons are uraniumrich: associated non-uraniferous hydrocarbons are not replacive. Uranium is transported as carbonate complexes, which may be decomposed by organic acids to yield UO22+ ions and CO2. The UO22+ will be absorbed onto hydrocarbons before reduction to a mineral phase, generally uraninite; and the CO2 may be aggressive towards the silicate grains of the host sandstone. Accretionary nodules of replacive uraniferous hydrocarbon in red beds (e.g. at the cores of reduction spots) can provide valuable information about petroleum migration. They occur particularly in the vicinity of faults, and may record the interactions between metal-rich groundwaters and hydrocarbons leaking along a fault from an underlying reservoir. A trial study in Devonian sandstones of Easter Ross successfully traced a hydrocarbon-bearing sandstone reservoir from an occurrence of uraniferous hydrocarbon nodules.

Keywords: hydrocarbons • sandstones • uranium • uraninite • petroleum migration

Mineralogical Magazine; October 1987 v. 51; no. 62; p. 505-515; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1987.051.362.05
© 1987, The Mineralogical Society
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