Petroleum Geology and Geochemistry of Oils and Possible Source Rocks of the Southern East Coast Basin, New Zealand
The East Coast Basin of New Zealand contains up to 10,000 m of predominantly fine-grained marine sediments of Early Cretaceous to Pleistocene age, and widespread oil and gas seepages testify to its status as a petroleum province. A suite of oils and possible source rocks from the southern East Coast Basin have been analysed by a variety of geochemical techniques to determine the hydrocarbon potential and establish oil-oil and oil-source rock correlations. Results of TOC and Rock-Eval pyrolysis indicate that the latest Cretaceous Whangai Formation and Paleocene Waipawa Black Shale represent the only good potential source rock sequences within the basin. The middle to Late Cretaceous Glenburn and Te Mai formations, previously considered good potential source rocks, are organic-rich (TOC contents up to 1.30% and 1.52% respectively), but comprise predominantly Types III and IV (structured terrestrial and semi-opaque) kerogen and, therefore, have little hydrocarbon generative potential (HI values < 50). Early Cretaceous and Neogene formations are shown to have low TOC contents and have little source rock potential. The Waipawa Black Shale is a widespread, thin (< 50 m), dark brown, non-calcareous siltstone. It contains up to 1.9% sulphur and elevated quantities of trace metals. Although immature to marginally mature for hydrocarbon generation in outcrop, it is organic-rich (TOC content up to 5.69%) and contains oil and gas-prone Types II and III kerogen. The extracted bitumen comprises predominantly marine algal and terrestrial higher plant material and indicates that deposition occurred under conditions of reduced oxygen with significant anoxic episodes. The Whangai Formation is a thick (300-500 m), non-calcareous to calcareous siliceous mudstone. Although immature to marginally mature in outcrop, the Upper Calcareous and Rakauroa members have a TOC content up to 1.37% and comprise oil and gas-prone Types II and III (structured aqueous and structured terrestrial) kerogen. Bitumen extracts comprise predominantly marine organic matter with a moderate terrestrial higher plant component and indicate that deposition occurred under mildly reducing conditions, with periodic anoxic episodes indicated for the Upper Calcareous Member. Two families of oils are recognised in the southern East Coast Basin. The Kerosene Rock, Westcott, Tiraumea and Okau Stream oils comprise both algal marine and terrestrial higher plant material and were deposited under periodically anoxic conditions. They are characterised by high relative abundances of unusual C30 steranes (C30 indices of 0.24-0.40) and 28,30-bisnorhopane, low proportions of C28 steranes and isotopically heavy [delta] 13C values (-20.9 to -23.0 [per mil]). The Waipatiki and Tunakore oils from southern Hawke's Bay and the Kora-1 oil from the northern Taranaki Basin have similar geochemical characteristics and are also included in this family of oils. These same characteristics are also diagnostic of the Waipawa Black Shale and an oil-source rock correlation is made on this basis. The Knights Stream and Isolation Creek oils are derived from predominantly marine organic matter with a moderate terrestrial angiosperm contribution, and characterised by low relative abundances of C30 steranes (C30 indices of 0.06-0.12) and 28,30-bisnorhopane, high proportions of C28 steranes and isotopically light [delta] 13C values (-26.8 to -28.9 [per mil]). Also included in this family of oils, with a slightly greater marine influence, are the major seep oils of the northern East Coast Basin (Waitangi, Totangi and Rotokautuku). A tentative oil-source rock correlation with the Upper Calcareous and Rakauroa members of the Whangai Formation is based on their similar geochemical characteristics.