Integrating vitrinite reflectance, rock-eval pyrolysis, flourescence microscopy and palynology of the Athabasca oil sands, Kearl Lake area, northeastern Alberta
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Three cores from the Kearl Lake Oil Sands area within the Athabasca deposit of northeastern Alberta have been analyzed to understand the thermal history of the McMurray and Clearwater formations of the Lower Cretaceous Mannville Group. The approach involves the integration of vitrinite reflectance (VR), Rock-Eval pyrolysis, fluorescence microscopy, and palynology. Mean VR varies between 0.21 and 0.43% Ro and indicates thermally immature levels equivalent to the rank of lignite to sub-bituminous coal. Although differing lithologies have influenced VR to some extent (i.e., coals and bitumen-rich zones), groundwater influence and oxidation seem not to have measurably altered YR. Rock-Eval analysis points to Type III/IV kerogen, and samples rich in amorphous organic matter (ADM) show little to no fluorescence characteristics, implying a terrestrial source of origin. Palynology reveals the presence of some delicate macerals but lack of fluorescence and abundant ADM suggests some degradation and partial oxidation of the samples.