Understanding degree and timing of thermal maturation is critical for the evaluation of petroleum systems on hydrocarbon prospectivity. However, basin thermal history is one of the key uncertainties. Vitrinite reflectance is one of the most common measurements used to evaluate thermal maturity.

We tested and calibrated different published and new vitrinite reflectance models to assess the impact on timing of maturity and hydrocarbon generation. We compared Easy%R, its update Easy%RDL, and Basin%Ro using 1D basin and petroleum system modelling on several wells from the Alaska North Slope.

In this study area, Basin%Ro and Easy%RDL show significant improvements for calibration against vitrinite reflectance profiles that show the characteristic dogleg structure with different rates of increasing maturity. Based on these results, we recommend consideration of several vitrinite reflectance models for thermal calibration and their impact on degree and timing of maturity and the assignment of thermal boundary conditions. In particular, this is important for evaluation of timing of hydrocarbon generation and expulsion related to trap formation. It is not yet certain whether there is a universal algorithm for vitrinite reflectance maturation in humic kerogen and, if not, the relationship between depositional conditions and variations in the algorithm is unknown.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Banet, A.C.
    [1993] A geochemical profile and burial history of Aurora 890 #1 OCS Y-0943 well offshore of the ANWR 1002 Area, Northeast Alaska. BLM-Alaska Technical Report16, 56 p.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bird, K. J.
    [2001] Alaska: A 21st century petroleum province. In: Downey, M.W., Threet, J.C. and Morgan, W.A. (Eds.) Petroleum provinces of the twenty-first century, AAPG Memoir74, 137–165.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Burnham, A.
    [2016] Evolution of vitrinite reflectance models, Presentation to Linked-In Petroleum Systems Analysts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOYNujm80uU.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Nielsen, S.B., Clausen, O.R. and McGregor, E.
    [2015] Basin%Ro: A vitrinite reflectance model derived from basin and laboratory data. Basin Research. doi:10.1111/bre.12160
    https://doi.org/10.1111/bre.12160 [Google Scholar]
  5. Peters, K.E., Walters, C.C. and Moldowan, J.M.
    [2005] The Biomarker Guide. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 1155 p.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Peters, K.E., Burnham, A.K. and Walters, C.C.
    [2016] Petroleum generation kinetics: Single versus multiple heating-ramp open-system pyrolysis: Reply. AAPG Bulletin100, 690–694.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Schenk, O., Bird, K.J., Magoon, L.B. and Peters, K.E.
    [2012] Petroleum system modeling of Northern Alaska. In: Peters, K.E., Curry, D. and Kacewicz, M. (Eds.) Basin Modeling: New Horizons in Research and Applications. AAPG Hedberg Series 4, 317–338.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Suggate, R.P.
    [1998] Relations between depth of burial, vitrinite reflectance and geothermal gradient. Journal of Petroleum Geology21(1), 5–32.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Sweeney, J.J. and Burnham, A.K.
    [1990] Evaluation of a simple model of vitrinite reflectance based on chemical kinetics. AAPG Bulletin74, 1559–1570.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error