Journal of Earth Science

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 158–175 | Cite as

Lacustrine Basin Fills in an Early Cretaceous Half-Graben, Jiuquan Basin, NW China: Controlling Factors and Implications for Source Rock Depositional Processes and Heterogeneity

  • Chengcheng Zhang
  • Hua WangEmail author
  • Si Chen
  • Junjie Yu
  • Yuantao Liao
  • Zongsheng Lu
  • Jun Wei


Studies on basin fills have provided significant insights into reservoir distribution and prediction in petroliferous basins, however, the effect of basin fills on source rock properties has been underexplored. This paper documents basin filling characteristics and their implications for depositional processes and heterogeneity of source rock in the Qingnan subsag of the Jiuquan Basin, by using subsurface geological data from recent hydrocarbon exploration efforts in this area. Drill core data reveals that the basin fill of the Qingnan subsag was dominated by fan delta-lacustrine systems, in which deposition of the fan deltas along the basin margin was mainly through gravity flows. The temporal and spatial evolution of the depositional systems indicates that the basin fill was characterized by a continuously retrogradational process, with decreasing extent of fan deltas in vertical succession. Weakening of tectonic activities and climate change from humid to semi-arid are interpreted to be the main control factors that were responsible for the retrogradational basin fill. The different depositional environments in the early stage and late stage of the retrogradational basin filling history resulted in the different depositional processes and properties of source rocks. This study suggests that source rock heterogeneity associated with basin fills in lacustrine basins should be considered in hydrocarbon exploration.

Key words

basin fills source rock depositional process rift basin Jiuquan Basin 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Program (No. 41472084), the Major National Petroleum Program in the ‘Thirteenth Five-Year’ Plan (No. 2016ZX05006-006-002), the Comprehensive Geological Survey Project of Ningde Coastal Zone (No. DD20189505), the Open Fund of Evaluation and Detection Technology Laboratory of Marine Mineral Resources, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (No. KC201701), and the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province (No. ZR2016DB29). We thank the Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development of Yumen Oilfield for providing the abundant and valuable data. The authors are very grateful to the four anonymous reviewers, whose comments and suggestions greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. We also would like to thank Dr. James Muirhead at Syracuse University for his help in correcting the English throughout the manuscript. The final publication is available at Springer via

References Cited

  1. Blair, T. C., Bilodeau, W. L., 1988. Development of Tectonic Cyclothems in Rift, Pull-Apart, and Foreland Basins: Sedimentary Response to Episodic Tectonism. Geology, 16(6): 517–520.<0517:dotcir>;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bohacs. K. M., Carroll, A. R., Neal, J. E., et al., 2000. Lake-Basin Type, Source Potential, and Hydrocarbon Character: An Integrated Sequence-Stratigraphic-Geochemical Framework. In: Gierlowski-Kordesch, E. H., Kelts, K. R., eds., Lake Basins through Space and Time. AAPG Studies in Geology, 46: 3–34Google Scholar
  3. Cao, Z. L., Gou, Y. C., Zheng, H. J., et al., 2009. Sedimentary Characteristics and Controlling Factors of Lower Cretaceous Nearshore Subaqueous Fans in Jiuxi Depression.Natural Gas Geoscience, 20(6): 896–901 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  4. Carroll, A. R., Bohacs, K. M., 1999. Stratigraphic Classification of Ancient Lakes: Balancing Tectonic and Climatic Controls. Geology, 27(2): 99–102.<0099:scoalb>;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carroll, A. R., Bohacs, K. M., 2001. Lake-Type Controls on Petroleum Source Rock Potential in Nonmarine Basins. AAPG Bulletin, 85(6): 1033–1053. Google Scholar
  6. Chen, J. J., 2004. Research on the Conditions of Hydrocarbon-Generating and the Correlation of Oil and Source Rock from the Jiuxi Depression: [Dissertation]. Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu. 45–47 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  7. Chen, J. J., Cheng, K. M., Xiong, Y., et al., 2005. Hydrocarbon Generation of Laminar Algal Limestone of Lower Cretaceous in the Jiuxi Depression, NW China. Petroleum Exploration and Development, 32(6): 61–65 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  8. Chen, J. P., Chen, J. J., Zhang, L. P., et al., 2001a. New Opinions on Oil and Gas Generation and Exploration in Jiuxi Basin (II) Determination of Process of Hydrocarbon Generating and the Principal Oil Source Rock. Petroleum Exploration & Development, 28(2): 15–18 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  9. Chen, J. P., Chen, J. J., Zhang, L. P., et al., 2001b. New Opinions on Oil and Gas Generation and Exploration in Jiuxi Basin (III)-Oil and Gas Migration, Pool Formation and Exploration Target. Petroleum Exploration & Development, 28(3): 12–16 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  10. Chen, S., Wang, H., Wei, J., et al., 2014. Sedimentation of the Lower Cretaceous Xiagou Formation and Its Response to Regional Tectonics in the Qingxi Sag, Jiuquan Basin, NW China. Cretaceous Research, 47: 72–86. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clift, P., Gaedicke, C., Edwards, R., et al., 2002a. The Stratigraphic Evolution of the Indus Fan and the History of Sedimentation in the Arabian Sea. Marine Geophysical Research, 23(3): 223–245. doi:10.1023/A:1023627123093CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clift, P., Lee, J. I., Clark, M. K., et al., 2002b. Erosional Response of South China to Arc Rifting and Monsoonal Strengthening; A Record from the South China Sea. Marine Geology, 184(3/4): 207–226. Google Scholar
  13. Cohen, A. S., 2003. Paleolimnology: The History and Evolution of Lake Systems. Oxford University Press, New York. 201–204Google Scholar
  14. Deng, S. H., Lu, Y. Z., 2008. Fossil Plants from Lower Cretaceous of the Jiuquan Basin, Gansu, Northwest China and Their Palaeoclimatic Implications. Acta Geologica Sinica, 82(1): 1–11 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  15. Eugster, H. P., Kelts, K., 1983. Lacustrine Chemical Sediments. Chemical Sediments and Geomorphology. Academic Press, London. 321–368Google Scholar
  16. France-Lanord, C., Michard, A., Bouquillon, A., et al., 1990. Isotopic Chemistry and Sedimentology of the Bengal Fan Sediments: The Denudation of the Himalaya. Chemical Geology, 84(1/2/3/4): 368–370. Google Scholar
  17. Gao, B., Cheng, K. M., Fan, T. L., et al., 2007. Development Environment and Formation Mechanism of Algae Laminae in Lower Cretaceous in Jiuxi Depression. Journal of Southwest Petroleum University, 29(4): 44–48 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  18. Gawthorpe, R. L., Fraser, A. J., Collier, R. E. L., 1994. Sequence Stratigraphy in Active Extensional Basins: Implications for the Interpretation of Ancient Basin-Fills. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 11(6): 642–658. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gawthorpe, R. L., Leeder, M. R., 2000. Tectono-Sedimentary Evolution of Active Extensional Basins. Basin Research, 12(3/4): 195–218. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Han, Y. K., Hu, Y., Wang, C. X., et al., 2007. The Differences between Two Oil-enriched Sags and Their Exploration Prospects in Jiuquan Basin. Xinjiang Petroleum Geology, 28(6): 691–693 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  21. Hendrix, M. S., Graham, S. A., Carroll, A. R., et al., 1992. Sedimentary Record and Climatic Implications of Recurrent Deformation in the Tian Shan: Evidence from Mesozoic Strata of the North Tarim, South Junggar, and Turpan Basins, Northwest China. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 104(1): 53–79.<0053:sracio>;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Henstra, G. A., Grundvåg, S. A., Johannessen, E. P., et al., 2016. Depositional Processes and Stratigraphic Architecture within a Coarse-Grained Rift-Margin Turbidite System: The Wollaston Forland Group, East Greenland. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 76: 187–209. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huang, C. Y., Wang, H., Wu, Y. P., et al., 2012. Genetic Types and Sequence Stratigraphy Models of Palaeogene Slope Break Belts in Qikou Sag, Huanghua Depression, Bohai Bay Basin, Eastern China. Sedimentary Geology, 261/262: 65–75. Google Scholar
  24. Huo, Y. L., 1989. Petroleum Geology of China (13): Oil Fields in Yumen. Petroleum Industry Press, Beijing. 441Google Scholar
  25. Jin, S. D., 2016. Recognition of Cyclostratigraphy and Discussion of the Genetic Mechanism of Xiagou Formation in Early Cretaceous, Jiuquan Basin, West of China: [Dissertation]. China University of Geosciences, Wuhan. 116–131Google Scholar
  26. Katz, B. J., 1988. Clastic and Carbonate Lacustrine Systems: An Organic Geochemical Comparison (Green River Formation and East African Lake Sediments). Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 40(1): 81–90. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Katz, B. J., 2001. Lacustrine Basin Hydrocarbon Exploration-Current Thoughts. Journal of Paleolimnology, 26(2): 161–179. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kelts, K., 1988. Environments of Deposition of Lacustrine Petroleum Source Rocks: An Introduction. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 40(1): 3–26. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Leeder, M. R., Harris, T., Kirkby, M. J., 1998. Sediment Supply and Climate Change: Implications for Basin Stratigraphy. Basin Research, 10(1): 7–18. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Li, F. Q., Wang, C. S., Wang, C. X., 2006. Tectonic Characteristics and Origin of Jiuquan Basin Group. Acta Geologica Sinica, 80(2): 182–188 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  31. Li, T. T., Zhu, R. K., Bai, B., et al., 2015. Characteristics and Research Significance of Fine Lacustrine Sedimentary Rock Laminations of Xiagou Formation in Qingxi Depression of Jiuquan Basin. China Petroleum Exploration, 20(1): 38–47 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  32. Li, W. H., Zhou, L. F., Zhao, W. Z., et al., 1997. Fan-Delta in Ying’er Depression, Jiudong Basin. Oil & Gas Geology, 18(4): 300–304 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  33. Li, X. H., Xu, W. L., Liu, W. H., et al., 2013. Climatic and Environmental Indications of Carbon and Oxygen Isotopes from the Lower Cretaceous Calcrete and Lacustrine Carbonates in Southeast and Northwest China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 385: 171–189. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lin, C. S., Zheng, H. R., Ren, J. Y., 2004. The Control of Syndepositional Faulting on the Eogene Sedimentary Basin Fills of the Dongying and Zhanhua Sags, Bohai Bay Basin. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences, 47(9): 769–782. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lin, C. S., Eriksson, K., Li, S. T., et al., 2001. Sequence Architecture, Depositional Systems, and Controls on Development of Lacustrine Basin Fills in Part of the Erlian Basin, Northeast China. AAPG Bulletin, 85(11): 2017–2043. Google Scholar
  36. Liu, H., Jiang, Z. X., Zhang, R. F., et al., 2012. Genetic Types of Daxing Conglomerate Bodies and Their Controls on Hydrocarbons in the Langgu Sag, Bohai Bay Basin, East China. Petroleum Exploration and Development, 39(5): 583–590. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Liu, Z. S., 2000. Early Cretaceous Sporopollen Assemblage from the Hanxia of Yumen in Gansu, NW China. Acta Micropalaeontologica Sinica, 17(1): 73–84 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  38. Ma, L. Y., Cheng, K. M., Liu, D. M., et al., 2007. Laminar Algal Distribution Characteristics of Lower Cretaceous and Relation to Oil-Gas of Jiuquan Basin. Acta Sedimentologica Sinica, 25(1): 147–153 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  39. Martins-Neto, M. A., 1996. Lacustrine Fan-Deltaic Sedimentation in a Proterozoic Rift Basin: The Sopa-Brumadinho Tectonosequence, Southeastern Brazil. Sedimentary Geology, 106(1/2): 65–96. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McCallum, J. E., Robertson, A. H. F., 1995. Sedimentology of Two Fan-Delta Systems in the Pliocene-Pleistocene of the Mesaoria Basin, Cyprus. Sedimentary Geology, 98(1/2/3/4): 215–244. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McConnico, T. S., Bassett, K. N., 2007. Gravelly Gilbert-Type Fan Delta on the Conway Coast, New Zealand: Foreset Depositional Processes and Clast Imbrications. Sedimentary Geology, 198(3/4): 147–166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McPherson, J. G., Shanmugam, G., Moiola, R. J., 1987. Fan-Deltas and Braid Deltas: Varieties of Coarse-Grained Deltas. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 99(3): 331.<331:fabdvo>;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Molnar, P., 2004. Late Cenozoic Increase in Accumulation Rates of Terrestrial Sediment: How might Climate Change have Affected Erosion Rates?. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 32(1): 67–89. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pan, L. Y., Zeng, Z. X., Li, M. J., et al., 2012. Mesozoic and Cenozoic Fault Superposition Basin in Jiuquan and Its Oil-Controlling Significance. Acta Geologica Sinica, 86(4): 535–545 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  45. Park, M. E., Cho, H., Son, M., et al., 2013. Depositional Processes, Paleoflow Patterns, and Evolution of a Miocene Gravelly Fan-Delta System in SE Korea Constrained by Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility Analysis of Interbedded Mudrocks. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 48: 206–223. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rohais, S., Eschard, R., Guillocheau, F., 2008. Depositional Model and Stratigraphic Architecture of Rift Climax Gilbert-Type Fan Deltas (Gulf of Corinth, Greece). Sedimentary Geology, 210(3/4): 132–145. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scholz, C. A., 1995. Deltas of the Lake Malawi Rift, East Africa: Seismic Expression and Exploration Implications. AAPG Bulletin, 79(11): 1679–1697. Google Scholar
  48. Scholz, C. A., Rosendahl, B. R., 1990. Coarse-clastic Facies and Stratigraphic Sequence Models from Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika, East Africa. Lacustrine Basin Exploration: Case Studies and Modern Analogs. AAPG Memoir, 50: 151–168Google Scholar
  49. Shi, Z. T., Ye, Y. G., Zhao, Z. J., et al., 2001. ESR Dating of Late Cenozoic Molassic Deposits in the Jiuxi Basin. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences, 44(S1): 203–209. Google Scholar
  50. Sladen, C. P., 1994. Key Elements during the Search for Hydrocarbons in Lake Systems. In: Gierlowski-Kordesch, E., Kelts, K., eds., Global Geological Record of Lake Basins. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 3–17Google Scholar
  51. Smith, G. A., 1994. Climatic Influences on Continental Deposition during Late-Stage Filling of an Extensional Basin, Southeastern Arizona. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 106(9): 1212–1228.<1212:ciocdd>;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sohn, Y. K., 2000a. Coarse-Grained Debris-Flow Deposits in the Miocene Fan Deltas, SE Korea: A Scaling Analysis. Sedimentary Geology, 130(1/2): 45–64. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sohn, Y. K., 2000b. Depositional Processes of Submarine Debris Flows in the Miocene Fan Deltas, Pohang Basin, SE Korea with Special Reference to Flow Transformation. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 70(3): 491–503. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Steel, R. J., Thompson, D. B., 1983. Structures and Textures in Triassic Braided Stream Conglomerates (‘Bunter’ Pebble Beds) in the Sherwood Sandstone Group, North Staffordshire, England. Sedimentology, 30(3): 341–367. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sun, C. T., Wang, R., Zhou, Z. H., et al., 2004. Prediction of Lower Cretaceous Reservoir of Qingxi Sag in Jiuquan Basin. Xinjiang Petroleum Geology, 25(3): 286–287 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  56. Sun, W. F., Song, Y., Gong, Y. J., et al., 2015. Accumulation Conditions for Tight Oil in Xiagou Formation, Lower Cretaceous, Qingxi Oilfield. Journal of Southwest Petroleum University (Sciences & Technology Edition), 37(6):12–20 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  57. Tu, J. Q., Chen, J. P., Zhang, D. J., et al., 2012. A Petrographic Classification of Macerals in Lacustrine Carbonate Source Rocks and Their Organic Petrological Characteristics: A Case Study on Jiuxi Basin, NW China. Acta Petrological Sinica, 28(3):917–926 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  58. Vincent, S. J., Allen, M. B., 1999. Evolution of the Minle and Chaoshui Basins, China: Implications for Mesozoic Strike-Slip Basin Formation in Central Asia. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 111(5): 725–742.<0725:eotmac>;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wang, B. T., Xiao, R. G., Gou, Y. C., et al., 2009. Submarine Fan of Steep Slope Belt and Its Prospect for Petroleum Exploration in Shada Sag, Jiuxi Depression. Xinjiang Petroleum Geology, 30(1): 25–28 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  60. Wang, C. X., Ma, G. F., Zhou, Z. H., 2005. Structure Evolution and Sedimentary Filling of Jiuquan Basin in Mesozoic-Cenozoic Period, NW China. Petroleum Exploration & Development, 32(1): 33–36 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  61. Wang, G. H., Wang, H., Gan, H. J., et al., 2016. Paleogene Tectonic Evolution Controls on Sequence Stratigraphic Patterns in the Fushan Sag, Northern South China Sea. Journal of Earth Science, 27(4): 654–669. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wang, H., Chen, S., Huang, C. Y., et al., 2017. Architecture of Sandstone Bodies of Paleogene Shahejie Formation in Northern Qikou Sag, Northeast China. Journal of Earth Science, 28(6): 1078–1085. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wang, H., Jiang, S., Huang, C. Y., et al., 2011. Differences in Sedimentary Filling and Its Controlling Factors in Rift Lacustrine Basins, East China: A Case Study from Qikou and Nanpu Sags. Frontiers of Earth Science, 5(1): 82–96. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wang, M. F., Wang, J. T., Tang, F., et al., 2008. High-Resolution Sequence Stratigraphy Analysis of Xiagou Formation, Lower Cretaceous in Qingxi Sag, Jiuquan Basin. Acta Sedimentologica Sinica, 26(4): 624–631 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  65. Watts, A. B., Ryan, W. B. F., 1976. Flexure of the Lithosphere and Continental Margin Basins. Tectonophysics, 36(1/2/3): 25–44. Google Scholar
  66. Wen, H. G., Zheng, R. C., Ye, T. R., et al., 2005. Sedimentary Characteristics of the Lower Cretaceous Strata and Prediction of the Favourable Exploration Areas in the Qingxi Depression, Jiuxi Basin, Gansu. Sedimentary Geology and Tethyan Geology, 25(4): 71–77 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  67. Yang, J. H., Ma, Y., 2017. Paleoclimate Perspectives of Source-to-Sink Sedimentary Processes. Earth Science, 42(11): 1910–1921 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  68. Yang, Z. M., Wang, Q., Shi, J. A., et al., 2003.Controls on the Enrichment of Oil Pools in Qingxi Sag, Jiuxi Basin. Acta Sedimentologica Sinica, 21(4): 695–701 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  69. Zhang, C. C., Wang, H., Liao, Y. T., et al., 2016. Differential Control of Syndepositional Faults on Sequence Stratigraphy and Depositional Systems during Main Rift I Stage in the Southeastern Fault Zone of Qingxi Sag, Jiuquan Basin, Northwestern China. Journal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology, 6(2): 145–157. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Zhang, J. G., Jiang, Z. X., Gierlowski-Kordesch, E., et al., 2017. A Double-Cycle Lake Basin Formed in Extensional to Transtensional Setting: The Paleogene Nanpu Sag, Bohai Bay Basin, China. Sedimentary Geology, 349: 15–32. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zhang, X. W., Scholz, C. A., Hecky, R. E., et al., 2014. Climatic Control of the Late Quaternary Turbidite Sedimentology of Lake Kivu, East Africa: Implications for Deep Mixing and Geologic Hazards. Geology, 42(9): 811–814. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zhao, X. Z., Xia, Y. P., Pan, L. Y., et al., 2004. Structural Character of Frontland Thrust Belt of Jiuquan Basin South Margin and Oil/Gas Exploration Direction. Oil Geophysical Prospecting, 39(2): 222–227 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  73. Zhu, L. D., Wang, C. S., Zheng, H. B., et al., 2006. Tectonic and Sedimentary Evolution of Basins in the Northeast of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Their Implication for the Northward Growth of the Plateau. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 241(1): 49–60. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zhu, X. M., Dong, Y. L., Yang, J. S., et al., 2008. Sequence Stratigraphic Framework and Distribution of Depositional Systems for the Paleogene in Liaodong Bay Area. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences, 51(S2): 1–10. Google Scholar
  75. Zhu, X., Zhu, H. T., Zeng, H. L., et al., 2017. Subdivision, Characteristics, and Varieties of the Source-to-Sink Systems of the Modern Erhai Basin, Yunnan Province. Earth Science, 42(11): 2010–2024 (in Chinese with English Abstract)Google Scholar
  76. Zou, C. N., Wang, L., Li, Y., et al., 2012. Deep-Lacustrine Transformation of Sandy Debrites into Turbidites, Upper Triassic, Central China. Sedimentary Geology, 265/266: 143–155. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanjing CenterChina Geological SurveyNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Tectonics and Petroleum Resources, Ministry of EducationChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.School of Earth SciencesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  4. 4.PetroChina Yumen Oilfield CompanyYumenChina

Personalised recommendations