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Behavior of Re and Os during contact between an aqueous solution and oil: Consequences for the application of the Re-Os geochronometer to petroleum

Abstract : Several recent studies have raised the exciting possibility that oils can be dated using the Re-Os radioisotope system. However the exact nature of the events dated by this technique often remains unclear. Geochronologic interpretation of Re-Os data for oils is hampered by our limited knowledge of how these metals behave in petroleum systems. In particular, it is difficult to understand how isotopic homogenization, an essential prerequisite for the development of an isochronal relationship, can be achieved at the scale of a petroleum basin. The mechanisms capable of fractionating the Re/Os ratio in a suite of oils are also poorly understood. For this reason, we have performed an experimental study aimed at investigating the behavior of Re and Os during a particularly widespread phenomenon in petroleum systems, the interaction of formation waters with oils during migration. Contact experiments between natural oils and aqueous solutions enriched in Re and/or Os were carried out for varying lengths of time (6 h to 5 months), at different temperatures (25-150 degrees C), over a wide range of metal concentrations in the enriched solution (0.001-100 mu g/g for Re; 1 and 10 ng/g for Os). In addition, the effect of oil composition on Re-Os exchange at the water-oil interface was examined by testing two oils with very different properties. All of our results demonstrate that Re and Os are transferred massively and very rapidly from the aqueous solution to the organic phase. This is true regardless of temperature or oil composition. It is also true for a very wide range of metal concentrations in the aqueous solution, up to an apparent saturation level that exceeds natural concentrations in oils by several orders of magnitude. Given the efficiency of Re and Os transfer from water to oil demonstrated here, and assuming that our findings are applicable to natural conditions, water/oil ratios of only about 250 would be needed to explain the Re and Os contents of most oils, based on the measured concentrations of Re and Os in groundwaters. Thus transfer of Re and Os from formation waters could plausibly provide a source for these metals in oils. Waters from a given basin may have roughly homogeneous Os isotopic compositions, approximating the average value of the source rocks. On the other hand, variable Re/Os ratios might be expected to develop, as a result of interaction with various phases (e.g. Fe-Mn oxides or authigenic pyrite) encountered by the water as it flows through the reservoir. If homogeneous Os-187/Os-188 ratios coupled with variable Re/Os ratios are transferred to the oils with which the waters come in contact, the isotopic geochronometer could be reset.
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Fatima Mahdaoui, Raymond Michels, Laurie Reisberg, Magali Pujol, Yannick Poirier. Behavior of Re and Os during contact between an aqueous solution and oil: Consequences for the application of the Re-Os geochronometer to petroleum. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Elsevier, 2015, 158, pp.1-21. ⟨10.1016/j.gca.2015.02.009⟩. ⟨hal-01281806⟩



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