Journal of Earth Science

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 376–386 | Cite as

Molecular and Isotopic Characteristics of Mature Condensates from the East China Sea Shelf Basin Using GC×GC-TOFMS and GC-IRMS

  • Chao Shan
  • Jiaren YeEmail author
  • Alan Scarlett
  • Kliti Grice
Petroleum, Natural Gas Geology


In this study, biomarkers, together with stable carbon (δ13C) and hydrogen (δD) isotopic compositions of n-alkanes have been examined in a suite of condensates collected from the East China Sea Shelf Basin (ECSSB) in order to delineate their source organic matter input, depositional conditions and evaluate their thermal maturity. Previously, GC-MS analyses have shown that all the condensates are formed in oxidizing environment with terrestrial plants as their main source input. No significant differences were apparent for biomarker parameters, likely due to the low biomarker content and high maturity of these condensates. Conventional GC-MS analysis however, may provides limited information on the sources and thermal maturity of complex mixtures due to insufficient component resolution. In the current study, we used comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) to increase the chromatographic resolution. Compounds such as alkyl cyclohexanes, alkyl cyclopentanes and diamondoids, which can be difficult to identify using conventional GC-MS analysis, were successfully identified using GC×GC-TOFMS. From our analyses we propose two possibly unreported indicators, including one maturity indicator (C5-cyclohexane/5+-cyclohexane) and one oxidation-reduction environment indicator (alkyl-cyclohexane/alkyl-cyclopentane). Multiple petroleum charging events were proposed as an explanation for the maturity indicators indexes discrepancy between methyl-phenanthrene index (MPI) and methyl-adamantane index (MDI). In addition, the stable isotopic results show that condensates from the Paleogene have significantly higher positive δ13C values of individual n-alkanes than the Neogene samples. Based on δD values, the samples can be divided into two groups, the differences between which are likely to be attributed to different biosynthetic precursors. Variation within each group can likely be attributed to vaporization.

Key Words

condensate biomarker characteristic source information GC×GC-TOFMS GC-IRMS 


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This study was sponsored by the National Science and Technology Major Project of China (Nos. 2016ZX05024-002-003, 2016ZX05027-001-005). The final publication is available at Springer via

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Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, Part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tectonics and Petroleum Resources of Ministry of EducationChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.WA Organic and Isotope Geochemistry Centre, and John de Laeter Centre, the Institute for Geoscience Research, Department of Applied ChemistryCurtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia

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