Petroleum Migration in the Miocene Monterey Formation, California, USA: Constraints from Fluid-Inclusion Studies

Robert J. Bodnar
Department of Geological Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

Abstract: The Miocene Monterey Formation constitutes a fracture-controlled petroleum reservoir, with intercalated calcareous and fine-grained siliceous rocks serving as both the source and reservoir for oil accumulations. Petroleum is produced from macroscopic fractures, and numerous tar and asphalt seeps at the surface attest to the present-day movement of hydrocarbons through fractures in the Monterey Formation. Many fractures are filled with carbonate (mostly calcite and dolomite), quartz, baryte and anhydrite. These same fractures often contain tar or oil filling openings, and occasionally a thin layer of oil can be seen coating growth surfaces between two generations of vein-filling minerals.

Evidence for migration of fluids through these fractures in the geological past is provided by aqueous and petroleum fluid inclusions contained within vein-filling minerals. Vein-filling dolomite from Jalama Beach contains three different types of primary petroleum inclusions (based on fluorescence characteristics)—indicating that oils with significantly different API gravities flowed through the fractures. Petrographic and microthermometric analyses of oil and coexisting aqueous inclusions indicate that the fracture-filling minerals precipitated from aqueous solutions of seawater salinity at ∼75–100°C, and that oil was introduced into the fracture system episodically during mineral growth. A sample from the Lion's Head area consists of early calcite and late quartz, both of which contain aqueous inclusions with seawater salinity. Inclusions in quartz homogenize at slightly higher temperatures than those in calcite. These data are consistent with calcite deposition during an early heating event, followed by quartz deposition during cooling. No petroleum inclusions were observed in the Lion's Head sample.

Keywords: petroleum • migration • fluid inclusions • Monterey Formation • California

Mineralogical Magazine; June 1990 v. 54; no. 375; p. 295-304; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1990.054.375.15
© 1990, The Mineralogical Society
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