Organic petrographic characteristics of the Crocker Formation, NW Sabah, Malaysia

Author : Patrick Gou
Publication : Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia
Page : 65 - 75
Volume Number : 60
Year : 2014

Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, Volume 60, December 2014, pp. 65 – 75

Organic petrographic characteristics of the Crocker Formation, NW Sabah, Malaysia

Patrick Gou

Geology Department, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Currently at SapuraKencana Energy Inc.

Abstract: The deep marine Crocker Formation in NW Sabah, Malaysia has been well studied in terms of sedimentology, stratigraphy and structural geology. However, not much is known about its potential as a petroleum source rock. This study partly addresses this subject by means of petrographic analysis to characterise the Crocker sediments in terms of its organic matter content and thermal maturity. Crushed rock samples mounted in resin blocks were examined under reflected white and ultraviolet light. Petrographic analysis indicates that the Crocker Formation samples have low phytoclast content (<2%). The mostly indigenous phytoclasts (microscopic plant fragments) can be divided into 4 groups based on their reflectance values; vitrinite with dark inclusions (lowest reflectance), vitrinite, oxidised vitrinite and inertinite (highest reflectance). These phytoclast groups exhibit a reflectance profile of 0.6, 0.8, 1.0 and 1.2%Ro respectively. Such an approach (measuring the reflectance of different phytoclast groups) can aid the petrographer to evaluate and validate vitrinite reflectance measurements in samples such as the Crocker that has a variable phytoclast assemblage. The average vitrinite reflectance is 0.82%Ro, which indicates that the Crocker sediments analysed were once buried to a depth of 4.1 km on average. Although its thermal maturity is within the oil generation window at present day, the Crocker Formation is considered a poor petroleum source rock because it is poor in phytoclast content (<2%) and appears to lack oil-prone liptinitic macerals. However, favourable source rock units could exist within the Crocker in the form of slump or mass-transport units, if the organic or phytoclast content is high enough and oil-prone organic matter is sufficiently present. Further geochemical analysis and regional data need to be incorporated for a more comprehensive analysis and assessment of the Crocker as a petroleum source rock and/or an analogue for subsurface geological units.

Keywords: Sabah, Crocker Formation, organic petrography, petroleum source rock