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Biomarkers in Sediments, Sedimentary Rocks and Petroleums: Biological Origins, Geological Fate and Applications

By
Simon C. Brassell
Simon C. Brassell
Biogeochemical Laboratories, Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405-5101.
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Published:
January 01, 1992

Abstract

Biomarkers are individual organic constituents of sediments, sedimentary rocks and petroleums which derive from biological precursors. They constitute only a minor proportion of sedimentary organic matter, but their variety and structural diversity are invaluable aids to the decipherment and assessment of sediment maturity and depositional settings. The origins and sedimentary fates of biomarkers govern their occurrences, distributions and abundances which can be determined by a variety of chromatographic and spectrometric techniques. Biomarker assemblages provide a record of the environment in which they were deposited and the diagenetic processes that have subsequently influenced and modified them. Specific biomarker characteristics permit the differentiation of lacustrine and marine environments and can aid the assessment of sea surface temperatures and salinity levels. Also, biomarkers undergo systematic and sequential transformations during diagenesis and the changes in their compositions can therefore be used as measures of the thermal history of sediments. Furthermore, the temperature range of biomarker transformations is sufficient that a combination of diagnostic reactions can quantify maturity changes from the earliest stages of sedimentation through the phases of petroleum generation by the thermal breakdown of organic matter. The varied evidence of environmental and thermal history contained in the biomarkers of sedimentary rocks typically survives within the compositions of their derived petroleums, thereby enabling correlations between oils and their source rocks. Under suitable conditions, however, reservoired petroleums can be degraded by aerobic bacteria which selectively remove their biomarker components in an ordered sequence.

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Contents

SEPM Short Course Notes

Geochemistry of Organic Matter in Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks

Lisa M. Pratt
Lisa M. Pratt
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John B. Comer
John B. Comer
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Simon C. Brassell
Simon C. Brassell
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Ruth Droppo
Ruth Droppo
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Volume
27
ISBN electronic:
9781565762503
Publication date:
January 01, 1992

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