Environmental Geology

, Volume 50, Issue 8, pp 1171–1181 | Cite as

Compositions and sources of extractable organic matter in Mesopotamian marshland surface sediments of Iraq: II. Polar compounds

  • Ahmed I. RushdiEmail author
  • Ali A. DouAbul
  • Sama Samir Mohammed
  • Bernd R. T. Simoneit
Original Article


The concentrations of polar organic compounds including n-alkanoic acids, n-alkanols, steroids and triterpenoids were determined in extracts of shallow sediments from the Mesopotamian marshlands of Iraq. The sediments were collected by a stainless steel sediment corer, extracted with a dichloromethane and methanol mixture (3:1 v:v) by ultrasonic agitation and then analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometric (GC–MS). The analysis results showed that the n-alkanoic acids ranged from C8 to C20 with concentrations of 7.8 ± 1.2 μg/g sample, whereas the concentrations of n-alkanols, which ranged from C12 to C39 were from 28.6 ± 4.3 to 121.7 ± 18.3 μg/g sample. The steroids and triterpenoids included stenols, stanols, stenones, stanones, tetrahymanol, tetrahymanone and extended ββ-hopanes. The total concentrations of steroids and triterpenoids ranged from 26.8 ± 4.1 to 174.6 ± 26.2 μg/g and from 0.74 ± 0.11 to 11.2 ± 1.7 μg/g sample, respectively. The major sources of these lipids were from natural vegetation, microbial (plankton) residues and bacteria in the sediments, with some contribution from anthropogenic sources (livestock, sewage and petroleum). Further studies of these wetlands are needed to characterize the input rate, transformation and diagenesis of the organic matter and to assess its various sources.


Mesopotamian marshes GC–MS Steroids Triterpenoids Lipids 



We extend our gratitude to Dr. Azzam Al-wash, Project Director, Eden, again for his support and encouragement. We thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their constructive comments, which improved the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed I. Rushdi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ali A. DouAbul
    • 2
  • Sama Samir Mohammed
    • 2
  • Bernd R. T. Simoneit
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental and Petroleum Geochemistry Group, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Iraq FoundationBaghdadIraq
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry, College of ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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