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Abstract:

Methane clumped-isotope compositions provide a new approach to understanding the formational conditions of methane from both biogenic and thermogenic sources. Under some conditions, these compositions can be used to reconstruct the formational temperatures of the gas, and this capability can be applied to common subsets of both biogenic and thermogenic systems. Additionally, there are examples in which clumped-isotope compositions do not reflect gas-formation temperatures but instead mixing effects and kinetic phenomena; such kinetic effects also occur in common and recognizable subtypes of biogenic and thermogenic gases. Here we review the use of methane clumped-isotope measurements for understanding the origin of methane in the subsurface. We review methane clumped-isotope measurements from numerous biogenic and thermogenic natural gas reservoirs. We then place these measurements in the context of common frameworks for identifying the formational conditions of methane including the use of methane δ13C and δD values and C1/C2–3 ratios. Finally, we propose a framework for how methane clumped isotopes can be used to identify the origin of methane accumulations.

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