Frontiers of Earth Science in China

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 399–404 | Cite as

Chemical variation from biolipids to sedimentary organic matter in modern oceans and its implication to the geobiological evaluation of ancient hydrocarbon source rocks

  • Wang Hongmei Email author
  • Ma Xiangru 
  • Liu Deng 
  • Yang Xiaofen 
  • Li Jihong 
Research Article


Understanding the dynamics of organic matter in modern marine water columns greatly favors the geobiological evaluation of hydrocarbon source rocks. Biolipids could make great contribution to petroleum hydrocarbons due to their comparable chemical components and the slightly refractory characteristics of biolipids during the microbial/thermal degradation. A variety of environmental factors such as temperature, CO2 and salinity could affect the biochemical contents in microorganisms. As a result, microorganisms living in a changing environmental condition might have a different contribution to the petroleum formation. Organic carbon flux is shown to bear a positive correlation with the primary productivity only within a certain range of biomass volumes in a specific biohabitat. Furthermore, organic matter is degraded much quickly in a water column with oxic conditions. Therefore, the anoxic condition, along with the enhanced biological productivity, would be one of the significant factors in the formation of high-quality hydrocarbon source rocks. The formation of biofilms and microbial mats favors the preservation of sedimentary organic matter by decreasing the degradation rate of organic matter. Identification of biofilms and microbial mats in sedimentary rocks will thus greatly help to understand the depositional processes of organic matter finally preserved in hydrocarbon source rocks.


modern oceans primary productivity biochemicals biofilm sedimentary organic matter hydrocarbon source rocks 


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wang Hongmei 
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ma Xiangru 
    • 1
  • Liu Deng 
    • 1
  • Yang Xiaofen 
    • 1
  • Li Jihong 
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology of Ministry of EducationChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina

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