Thermal Histories & Provenance Studies

SRK Petroleum integrates innovative technologies to maximise provenance, thermal maturity and thermal history information for source rocks, adding significant value to petroleum exploration success.

Thermal History and Maturity

  • Apatite Fission Track Thermochronology (AFTT)
  • Apatite Uranium-Thorium/Helium Thermochronology (U-Th/He)
  • Vitrinite Reflectance (VR)
  • Fluorescence Alteration of Multiple Macerals (FAMM®)

The amount of oil and gas generated in petroliferous basins over geological time depends on a variety of tectonic and depositional factors. Traditionally, the main record of the evolution of a petroleum-system has been found in the patterns of sedimentary rocks accumulating in subsiding basins. In simple terms, sedimentary rocks provide a record of changing conditions at the Earth’s surface and during burial; sedimentary basins provide both the source and reservoir for oil and gas resources.

SRK Petroleum reveals the long-term temperature evolution of petroliferous basins by:

  1. Extracting thermal history information from rocks using Apatite Fission Track and Uranium-Thorium/Helium Thermochronology. This thermal history information gives a record of the gradual cooling of rocks as they are uplifted, thereby giving a new perspective on the pattern of sediment supply into the basin.
  2. Extracting the thermal history information of rocks extracted from cores and cuttings after drilling, using a combination of AFTT, U-Th/He, FAMM® and VR as appropriate. FAMM analyses provide accurate thermal maturity determinations, by solving problems associated with suppressed/enhanced VR, reworking and cavings. These thermal maturity indicators also provide information on maximum temperatures experienced.
  3. Examining thermal history information to provide accurate inputs for basin modelling.

Integrating state of the art technologies to study the evolution of surface and subsurface rocks in this way provides powerful new insights into the entire depositional system, including uplift and erosion and on their potential to have generated hydrocarbons.

Provenance Studies

  • Uranium/Lead (U/Pb) and Uranium-Thorium/Helium (U-Th/He) double dating

Dating U/Pb and U-Th/He of zircons involves measurement of both U/Pb and He ages on the same detrital zircon crystal. This approach provides both high- and low- temperature ages, corresponding to crystallisation (or high grade metamorphism) and cooling events. This combination provides a diagnostic fingerprint of the source terrains from which the sediments were derived, establishes maximum depositional ages, and constrains the thermal histories of orogenic source regions.


Integrating a range of innovative thermochronological techniques allows us to place constraints on the timing, magnitude and source of thermal episodes related to basin evolution, maturity development and hydrocarbon generation, whereas the FAMM®/VR data also provide constraints on the maximum palaeotemperature experienced by the strata studied. The direct measurement of timing and magnitude of past thermal events will not only provide vital controls on the thermal maturation and hydrocarbon generation history, but also provides quantitative constraints on the amount of section removed during exhumation. Knowledge of these variables can significantly improve exploration success.

A better understanding of the configuration of the basin throughout its history will also allow an improved assessment of likely hydrocarbon reservoirs and migration pathways.



Contact SRK Petroleum and discuss how our range of services can enhance your exploration program.

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