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Book Chapter

The isotopic structures of geological organic compounds

By
John M. Eiler
John M. Eiler
1
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125
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Matthieu Clog
Matthieu Clog
2
University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK
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Michael Lawson
Michael Lawson
3
ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, Spring, TX 77389
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Max Lloyd
Max Lloyd
1
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125
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Alison Piasecki
Alison Piasecki
4
Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway
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Camilo Ponton
Camilo Ponton
1
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125
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Hao Xie
Hao Xie
1
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125
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Published:
January 01, 2018

Abstract:

Organic compounds are ubiquitous in the Earth’s surface, sediments and many rocks, and preserve records of geological, geochemical and biological history; they are also critical natural resources and major environmental pollutants. The naturally occurring stable isotopes of volatile elements (D, 13C, 15N, 17,18O, 33,34,36S) provide one way of studying the origin, evolution and migration of geological organic compounds. The study of bulk stable isotope compositions (i.e. averaged across all possible molecular isotopic forms) is well established and widely practised, but frequently results in non-unique interpretations. Increasingly, researchers are reading the organic isotopic record with greater depth and specificity by characterizing stable isotope ‘structures’ – the proportions of site-specific and multiply substituted isotopologues that contribute to the total rare-isotope inventory of each compound. Most of the technologies for measuring stable isotope structures of organic molecules have been only recently developed and to date have been applied only in an exploratory way. Nevertheless, recent advances have demonstrated that molecular isotopic structures provide distinctive records of biosynthetic origins, conditions and mechanisms of chemical transformation during burial, and forensic fingerprints of exceptional specificity. This paper provides a review of this young field, which is organized to follow the evolution of molecular isotopic structure from biosynthesis, through diagenesis, catagenesis and metamorphism.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

From Source to Seep: Geochemical Applications in Hydrocarbon Systems

M. Lawson
M. Lawson
ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, USA
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M.J. Formolo
M.J. Formolo
ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, USA
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J.M. Eiler
J.M. Eiler
California Institute of Technology, USA
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Geological Society of London
Volume
468
ISBN electronic:
9781786203687
Publication date:
January 01, 2018

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