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Methylhopanoids: Molecular indicators of ancient bacteria and a petroleum correlation tool

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul Farrimond, Dr Helen Talbot, Diane Watson


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Methylhopanoids are organic compounds synthesized by certain bacteria, that when preserved in sediments act as molecular fossils or biomarkers for organic matter inputs from specific bacterial sources. Two series of methylhopanoids occur, each mainly deriving from a distinct bacterial source: cyanobacteria (2-methyl) and methanotrophic bacteria (3-methyl). The abundance and composition of methylhopanoids within sediments of modern depositional environments varies widely, apparently due to different bacterial communities contributing to the sedimentary organic matter. Comparable molecular characteristics are found in oils and their source rocks. Consequently, methylhopanoids are valuable in oil-oil and oil-source rock correlations, distinguishing between samples related to different depositional environments. In particular, abundant 3β-methylhopanoids (from methanotrophic bacteria or an additional unknown bacterial source) are characteristic of some modern alkaline saline lake environments. Comparable compositional features in the methylhopanes of oils allow the assignment of lacustrine oils offshore West Africa to two distinct lacustrine source rock facies, and to distinguish between different marine source facies, thus refining oil-source rock correlation. Copyright © 2004 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Farrimond P, Talbot HM, Watson D, Schulz L, Wilhelms A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

Year: 2004

Volume: 68

Issue: 19

Pages: 3873-3882

ISSN (print): 0016-7037

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9533

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2004.04.011


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