Noble Gases In Ch4-Rich Gas Fields, Alberta, Canada

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Journal Article: Noble Gases In Ch4-Rich Gas Fields, Alberta, Canada

The elemental and isotopic compositions of helium, neon, argon, and xenon in twenty-one CH4-rich natural gas samples from Cretaceous and Devonian reservoirs in the Alberta, Canada, sedimentary basin were measured. In all but a few cases, radiogenic (4He, 40Ar, and 131-136Xe) and nucleogenic (21,22Ne) isotopes dominated. Based solely on the noble gas composition, two types of natural gas reservoirs are identified. One (Group B) is highly enriched in radiogenic-nucleogenic noble gases and varies little in composition: , , , ~ 0.7 _ 10-9, and (* denotes radiogenic or nucleogenic origin; all 4He is radiogenic). High nitrogen content with is also characteristic of Group B samples. The remaining samples (Group A) contain a radiogenic-nucleogenic component with a different composition and, relative to Group B samples, the extent of enrichment in this component is less and more variable: , , and . The composition of Group B radiogenic-nucleogenic noble gases is consistent with production in crust of average composition. Enrichment in Group B noble gases and nitrogen increases with proximity to the underlying Precambrian basement, consistent with a present-day mass flux into the overlying sedimentary basin. Inferred ratios imply a basement source enriched in thorium relative to uranium and potassium (Th/U > 20). Combined, the overall lower total radiogenic-nucleogenic content of Group A reservoirs, the greater variability in composition, and the appearance of Group A noble gases in reservoirs higher in the sedimentary sequence relative to the underlying basement implies that the Group A radiogenic-nucleogenic noble gases are indigenous to the sediments. The most interesting aspect of the Group A noble gases are the very high ratios; ~ 10-70 times greater than expected if derived from average crust. The mantle, surface cosmogenic 3He production, cosmic dust, or production in a lithium-enriched environment as potential sources for the 3He excesses are evaluated. The present data set would seem to rule out cosmogenic 3He. The mantle, cosmic dust, or high Li, however, remain viable candidates. The relative abundances of the nonradiogenic, non-nucleogenic noble gases show no correlation with the Group A-B reservoir classification. Compositional variations indicate three-component mixing between air or an air-like component, 10°C air-saturated water, and a third component enriched in xenon. Apparently, the latter cannot be derived from equilibrium solubility degassing of air-saturated water or oil-water mixtures, and may have been derived from devolatilization of C-rich petroleum source sediments.

H. Hiyagon and B. M. Kennedy

Published Journal 
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 1992



H. Hiyagon,B. M. Kennedy. 1992. Noble Gases In Ch4-Rich Gas Fields, Alberta, Canada. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. (!) .