Raman spectroscopy is commonly used to estimate peak temperatures in rocks containing organic carbon. In geological settings such as fold-thrust belts, temperature constraints are particularly important as complex burial and exhumation histories cannot easily be modelled. Many authors have developed equations to determine peak temperatures from Raman spectral parameters, most recently to temperatures as low as 75 °C. However, recent work has shown that Raman spectra can be affected by strain as well as temperature. Fold-thrust systems are often highly deformed on multiple scales, with deformation characterised by faults and shear zones, and therefore temperatures derived from Raman spectra in these settings may be erroneous. In this study, we investigate how the four most common Raman spectral parameters and ratios change through a thrust-stacked carbonate sequence. By comparing samples from relatively low-strain localities to those on thrust planes and in shear zones, we show maximum differences of 0.16 for I[d]/I[g] and 0.11 for R2, while FWHM[d] and Raman Band Separation show no significant change between low and high strained samples. Plausible frictional heating temperatures of faulted samples suggest that the observed changes in Raman spectra are not the result of frictional heating. We apply three equations used to derive the peak temperatures from Raman spectra to our data to investigate the implications on predicted temperatures between strained and unstrained samples. All three equations produce different temperature gradients with depth in unstrained samples. We observe that individual equations exhibit apparently varying sensitivities to strain, but calculated temperatures can be up to 140 °C different for adjacent strained and unstrained samples using the same temperature equation. These results have implications for how temperatures are determined in strained rock samples from Raman spectra.
This study was carried out as part of a University of Aberdeen PhD, supported by the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil & Gas [grant number NE/R01051X/1].