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Geochemical Journal
Geochemical Journal An open access journal for geochemistry
Published for geochemistry community from Geochemical Society of Japan.

Heat production of sedimentary rocks in the Sichuan basin, Southwest China

Chuanqing Zhu, Ming Xu, Nansheng Qiu, Shengbiao Hu
Geochemical Journal, Vol. 52, No. 5, P. 401-413, 2018


An integrated analysis of the heat production of sedimentary rocks from the Sichuan Basin was carried out by measuring the radioactive heat-producing elements (HPE) (U, Th, and K) in well samples. The mean heat production was calculated to be 0.83 ± 0.36, 1.09 ± 0.38, and 1.07 ± 0.39μ, 0.40 ± 0.39, and 0.35 ± 0.27 μW/m3 in sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, limestone and dolomite, respectively. In terrigenous sedimentary rocks, the contributions of U, Th, and K to the heat production were 65–68%, 26–28%, and 6–8%, respectively. The mean heat production of sedimentary layer in the Sichuan basin was estimated as 0.77–0.78 μW/m3, the gross heat production of sedimentary layer was calculated to be 8.11 mW/m2 in the west, 5.28 mW/m2 in the center and 7.78 mW/m2 in the east. The heat production of sedimentary layer contributes ~15% to the surface heat flow in the western and eastern Sichuan basin, and ~8% in the central basin. This study classified the lithology based on their contributions of radioactive elements to the heat production, which provides an insight to the differentiated heat productions of the sedimentary layers in the Sichuan Basin.


radioactive heat production, heat flow, γ-ray spectrometry, sedimentary rocks, Sichuan Basin

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