Stable Hydrogen Isotopes of Isoprenoids and N-Alkanes as a Proxy for Estimating the Thermal History of Sediments Through Geological Time:
Ercin Maslen, Kliti Grice, Daniel Dawson, Sue Wang, Brian Horsfield, 2012. "Stable Hydrogen Isotopes of Isoprenoids and N-Alkanes as a Proxy for Estimating the Thermal History of Sediments Through Geological Time: ", Analyzing the Thermal History of Sedimentary Basins: Methods and Case Studies, Nicholas B. Harris, Kenneth E. Peters
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The effect of thermal maturation on the δD values of individual petroleum hydrocarbons (n-alkanes and regular isoprenoids) from sedimentary organic matter over geological timescales has been explored in six different sedimentary sequences covering a wide range of maturities; i.e., 0.53%–1.6% vitrinite reflectance (Ro or equivalent; i.e., Re, Rc). These include new data and recently reported literature data on formations ranging in age from the Early Cretaceous to the Permian. The application of Deuterium/Hydrogen (D/H) of biomarkers as a maturity proxy for Devonian source rocks from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin is also presented here, extending this application to much older sediments than previously studied. In each case, pristane and phytane are predominantly derived from the lipid side chain of chlorophyll a present in most photosynthetic organisms, with an additional (but minor) contribution to pristane from tocopherol of land plants in selected cases. The n-alkanes represent contributions of algae, bacteria, and in certain cases higher plants. In general, the n-alkanes, pristane, and phytane from relatively immature sediments have δD values that retain the isotopic signature of their natural product precursors; i.e., biosynthesized lipid components made up of acetyl and isoprene subunits, respectively. With increasing maturity, pristane and phytane become more enriched in deuterium (D), while the n-alkanes generally remain at a constant isotopic composition until an overmature level is reached, at which point there is a significant enrichment of D in n-alkanes. The enrichment of D in pristane and phytane with increasing maturity correlates strongly with changes in traditional maturity parameters, including vitrinite reflectance, Tmax, and molecular parameters, providing evidence that D enrichment is associated with thermal maturation.
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Thermal histories of sedimentary basins are critical sources of scientific and practical information. They provide us with windows into past and present tectonic processes and the configuration of the crust and mantle. Using records of present and past temperature distributions, we can identify and constrain interpretations of tectonic events, distinguish different basin types and interpret pathways of fluid flow. These insights can be used calibrate basin and petroleum system models and to interpret and predict the distribution of minerals and petroleum, diagenesis and reservoir quality, and the geomechanical properties of rock units. This volume summarizes the current state of the art for many modern approaches used to estimate paleotemperature. Many techniques are now available based on both organic and inorganic components in the rock. Even techniques that are now many years old, such as apatite fission track analysis, have und