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Revista geológica de Chile

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MARTINEZ, Marcelo A; PRAMPARO, Mercedes B; QUATTROCCHIO, Mirta E  and  ZAVALA, Carlos A. Depositional environments and hydrocarbon potential of the Middle Jurassic Los Molles Formation, Neuquén Basin, Argentina: palynofacies and organic geochemical data. Rev. geol. Chile [online]. 2008, vol.35, n.2, pp.279-305. ISSN 0716-0208.

Amultidisciplinary analysis of palynofacies in a sequence-stratigraphical framework, TOC (total organic carbon) and TAI (thermal alteration index) analyses, has been applied to outcrop samples of the uppermost Los Molles Formation (Middle Jurassic), Neuquén Basin, Argentina, in order to characterise the palaeoenvironmental and palaeo-climatic conditions during the deposition of this unit. Five types of palynofacies (P-l to P-5) have been identified and are interpreted to indicate a restricted marine to inner neritic environment. In P-1 and P-4, a marine environment close to the terrestrial source area with moderate oxidizing conditions and energy, is suggested. In P-2, the assemblage of freshwater algae, acritarchs and prasinophytes suggest a marginal marine environment influenced by fluvial discharge. In P-3, the marine microplankton content reflects conditions ranging from a marginal-marine (sub-normal salinity) to an inner neritic environment. In P-5, a dysoxic marine environment (probably marginal) is suggested. Warm and relatively humid (abundance of Cheirolepidiaceae in association withAraucariaceae) and locally humid (presence of swamps or ponds, on the alluvial plains) conditions are inferred. TOC content (65% of the analyzed samples reach TOC values over 1%), TAI values (2 to 2+, transitional between an immature phase and the window of liquid petroleum generation) and kerogen type (P-1, P-2 and P-5 show transitional characteristics between kerogen type II and III, while P-3 and P-4 show characteristics of kerogen type III and occasionally type IV), suggest that, in the studied area, the Los Molles Formation has some hydrocarbon potential. However, kerogen state suggests that the anoxic-dysoxic conditions of the site of deposition were not optimum for its preservation.

Keywords : Palynofacies; Palaeoenvironments; Hydrocarbon potential; Total organic carbon (TOC); Middle Jurassic; Neuquén Basin; Argentina.

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