Geosciences Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 751–763 | Cite as

Biodegradation characteristics of bitumen from the Upper Devonian carbonates (Grosmont and Nisku formations) in Alberta, Canada

  • Myong-Ho Park
  • Youngwoo Kil
  • Jiyoung Choi
  • Junghwan Seol
  • Ji-Hoon KimEmail author


In this study, we investigated the biodegradation processes of bitumen from the Upper Devonian carbonates (Grosmont and Nisku formations) in Alberta using GC and GC-MS analyses of four drilling cores. The analyzed samples contain notable rich extracted bitumen, which is predominantly composed of NSO and asphaltene compounds and has lesser amounts of saturated and aromatic hydrocarbons (HCs). The GC and GC-MS results for both saturated and aromatic HCs indicate that there are considerable variations among the samples, which are primarily attributed to the differences in the degree of biodegradation involving microbial activity. The sulfur content and its isotope values for the samples also support biodegradation. Three groups can be classified based on the biomarker distributions as follows: (1) in Group 1, C19-C25 tricyclic terpanes are most abundant, particularly the C23 compounds; (2) Group 2 has no C30-C35 αβ hopanes and more abundant 25-norhopanes than the other two groups; and (3) Group 3 is similar to Group 1, but generally has less abundant C19-C25 tricyclic terpanes than Group 1. The reservoir alteration processes have notably influenced the biomarker properties of the samples. The most pronounced effects are the reduction of the amounts of C30+ hopanes and increasing demethylated hopanes, particularly in Groups 1 and 2, but not in Group 3. For Group 3, unlike Group 1, the degradation of hopanes apparently does not result in demethylated hopanes, indicating that there is another pathway to produce hopanes and/or destroy demethylated hopanes. These findings indicate that the biodegradation processes that occurred in the Grosmont and Nisku formations have been spatially and vertically varied due to the different environmental conditions and microbial processes.

Key words

biodegradation GC and GC-MS analyses biomarker Upper Devonian carbonates Alberta 


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Copyright information

© The Association of Korean Geoscience Societies and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Myong-Ho Park
    • 1
  • Youngwoo Kil
    • 2
  • Jiyoung Choi
    • 3
  • Junghwan Seol
    • 2
  • Ji-Hoon Kim
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Earth System SciencesYonsei UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Energy and Resources EngineeringChonnam National UniversityGwangjuRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Petroleum and Marine Research DivisionKorea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral ResourcesDaejeonRepublic of Korea

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