Arabian Journal of Geosciences

, 12:587 | Cite as

Influence of changes in paleosedimentary environment on sterane composition and distribution

  • Li Teng
  • Min ZhangEmail author
  • Chuanjun Yi
Original Paper


The molecular geochemical characteristics of a total 33 source rock samples collected from the Sichuan Basin, Songliao Basin, and Turpan-Hami Basin are systematically analyzed in order to detect the effects of sedimentary environment on the composition and distribution of steranes. The results reveal that steranes in different sedimentary environments covary with redox and water salinity parameters closely. On the whole, the C27 αααR/C29 αααR ratios show a strong correlation with pristane/phytane, dibenzothiophene/dibenzofuran, and gammacerane/C30 hopane. In lacustrine and swamp environment, the C27 αββ/ααα regular steranes, C28 αββ/ααα regular steranes, C29 αββ/ααα regular steranes, and C27-C29 αββ/ααα regular steranes display excellent consistence with sedimentary environment parameters. In addition, with increasing pristane/phytane, dibenzothiophene/dibenzofuran, and gammacerane index, the ratios of C27 diasterane/regular sterane increase first and then decrease, which illustrates that abundant diasteranes in hydrocarbon source rocks are believed to deposit under suboxic-weak reduction and fresh-brackish sedimentary environment. Whereas the C27 αββ/ααα regular steranes, C28 αββ/ααα regular steranes, C29 αββ/ααα regular steranes, and C27-C29 αββ/ααα regular steranes remain relatively stable with the change of sedimentary environment parameters in marine transgression environment. Meanwhile, the relative abundance of diasteranes is very low with high maturity. It suggests marine transgression makes a big difference on the composition and distribution of sterane, which tremendously affects the types of organic matter and depositional environment.


Gammacerane index Lacustrine environment Marine transgression Redox condition Steranes Swamp environment 


Funding information

This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41772124).


  1. Adegoke AK, Abdullah WH, Sarki Yandoka BM (2017) Provenance and paleoenvironment of organic matter within the fika sediments in Chad (bornu) basin, northeastern Nigeria: an integrated organic geochemical and palynofacies approach. Int J Coal Geol 173:94–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brocks JJ, Summons RE (2014) Sedimentary hydrocarbons, biomarkers for early life. Treatise on Geochemistry 8:61–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burlingame AL, Haug P, Belsky T, Calvin M (1965) Occurrence of biogenic steranes and pentacyclic triterpanes in an Eocene Shale (52 million years) and in an early Precambrian Shale (2.7 billion years): a preliminary report. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 54:1406–1412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cai J, Zhang M (2013) The geochemical characteristics of aromatic hydrocarbons in the upper Triassic Xujiahe Formation of Sichuan basin. Pet Geol Exp 35(3):325–330 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. Chen SJ, Shen ZG, Fu XW, Wang XL, Huang DF, Li XD (2001) Biological markers application in stratigraphic division and correlatio-take lower Paleozoic strata in Tarim Basin as example. J Stratigr 25:288–291Google Scholar
  6. Dietrich LEP, Tice MM, Newman DK (2006) The co-evolution of life and earth. Curr Biol 16(11):R395–R400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dzou LIP, Noble RA, Senftle JT (1995) Maturation effects on absolute biomarker concentration in a suite of coals and associated vitrinite concentrates. Org Geochem 23(7):681–697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eglinton G, Calvin M (1966) Chemical fossils. Scientifical American 216:32–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fowler MG, Douglas AG (1987) Saturated hydrocarbon biomarkers in oils of late precambrian age from eastern siberia. Org Geochem 11(3):201–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Grantham PJ (1986) The occurence of unusual C27 and C29 sterane predominances in two types of Oman crude oil. Org Geochem 9(1):1–10Google Scholar
  11. Guo P, He S, Zhu S et al (2015) Application of tricyclic terpanes in biodegraded oil-source correlation in Biyang Sag. Pet Geol Exp 37(1):80–87 (in Chinese with English abstractGoogle Scholar
  12. Hakimi MH, Abdullah WH (2014) Biological markers and carbon isotope composition of organic matter in the upper cretaceous coals and carbonaceous shale succession (Jiza–Qamar basin, Yemen): origin, type and preservation. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 409:84–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Huang WY, Meinshein WG (1979) Sterols as ecological indicators. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 43(5):739–745CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hughes WB, Holba AG, Dzou LIP (1995) The ratios of dibenzothiophene to phenanthrene and pristane to phytane as indicators of depositional environment and lithology of petroleum source rocks. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 59(59):3581–3598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jiang L, Zhang M (2015) Geochemical characteristics and significances of rearranged hopanes in hydrocarbon source rocks, songliao basin, NE China. J Pet Sci Eng 131:138–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kimble BJ, Maxwell JR, Philp RP, Eglinton G (1974) Identification of steranes and triterpanes in geolidid extracts by high-resolution gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Chem Geol 14:173–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kong T, Zhang M (2018) Effects of depositional environment on rearranged hopanes in lacustrine and coal measure rocks. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering:785–795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Korkmaz S, Gülbay RK (2007) Organic geochemical characteristics and depositional environments of the Jurassic coals in the eastern Taurus of southern Turkey. Int J Coal Geol 70(4):292–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li S (1999) Sedimentary environment significance of normal alkane and the ratio of pristane to phytane. Journal of petroleum university (JCR Science Edition) 23(5):16–23 in Chinese with English abstractGoogle Scholar
  20. Li JG, Liu WH, Zheng JJ et al (2004) Fluorine series compounds from continental source rocks and crude oils in Kuche depression. J Pet 25(1):40–43 in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  21. Li SM, Pang XQ, Jin ZJ (2002) Distribution and significance of steriods in Bamianhe Oilfield, East China. Earth Science—Journal of China University of Geosciences 27(6):711–717 in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  22. Li XZ, Zhang ML, Xie WR et al (2008) Sedimentary facies characteristics of upper Triassic Xujiahe Formation in Southwest Sichuan Basin. Nat Gas Ind 28(2):54–57 in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  23. Luo BJ, Li XY (1993) Characteristics of aromatic hydrocarbons in crude oils. Genchimica 22(2):127–135 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  24. Mello MR, Gaglianone PC, Brassell SC, Maxwell JR (1988) Geochemical and biological marker assessment of depositional environments using Brazilian offshore oils. Mar Pet Geol 5(3):205–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mello MR, Telnaes N, Gaglianone PC, Chicarelli MI, Brassell SC, Maxwell JR (1988) Organic geochemical characterisation of depositional palaeoenvironments of source rocks and oils in Brazilian marginal basins. Org Geochem 13(1):31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moldowan JM, Fago FJ, Carlson RMK, Young DC, Duvne G, Clardy J, Schoell M, Pillinger CT, Watt DS (1991) Rearranged hopanes in sediments and petroleum. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 55(11):3333–3353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moldowan JM, Sundararaman P, Schoell M (1986) Sensitivity of biomarker properties to depositional environment and/or source input in the lower Toarcian of S.W. Germany. Org Geochem 10(4):915–926CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ourisson G, Albrecht P, Rohmer M (1982) Predictive microbial biochemistry — from molecular fossils to procaryotic membranes. Trends Biochem Sci 7(7):236–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Peakman TM, Maxwell JR (1988) Early diagenetic pathways of steroid alkenes. Org Geochem 13(4–6):583–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Peakman TM, ten Haven HL, Rechka JR, de Leeuw JW, Maxwell JR (1989) Occurrence of (20R)- and (20S)-Δ8(14) andΔ145α(H)-steranes and the origin of 5α(H),14β(H),17β(H)-steranes in an immature sediment. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 53(8):2001–2009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peters KE, Cassa MR (1994) Applied source rock geochemistry: chapter 5: part II. Essent Elem 93–120Google Scholar
  32. Peters KE, Moldowan JM (1991) Effects of source, thermal maturity, and biodegradation on the distribution and isomerization of homohopanes in petroleum. Org Geochem 17(1):47–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Peters KE, Moldowan JM (1993) The biomarker guide-interpreting molecular fossils in petroleum and ancient sediments: New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 363 pGoogle Scholar
  34. Peters KE, Walters CC, Moldowan JM (2005) The biomarker guide, biomarkers and isotopes in petroleum exploration and earth history, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Philp RP (1985) Fossi fuel biomarkers. Elsevier Science Publishing Company Inc, Amsterdam-Oxford-New-York Tokyo, pp 1–294Google Scholar
  36. Powell TG, McKirdy DM (1973) Relationship between ratio of pristane to phytane, crude oil composition and geological environment in Australia. Nat Phys Sci 243(124):37–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pu F, Philip RP, Zhenxi L, Guangguo Y (1990) Geochemical characteristics of aromatic hydrocarbons of crude oils and source rocks from different sedimentary environments. Org Geochem 16(1–3):427–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Revill AT, Volkman JK, O’Leary T, Summons RE, Boreham CJ, Banks MR, Denwer K (1994) Hydrocarbon biomarkers, thermal maturity, and depositional setting of tasmanite oil shales from Tasmania, Australia. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 58(18):3803–3822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rullkotter J, Marzi R (1988) Natural and artificial maturation of biological markers in a Toarcian shale from northern Germany. Org Geochem 13(4–6):639–645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schoell M, Hwang RJ, Carlson RMK, Welton JE (1994) Carbon isotopic composition of individual biomarkers in gilsonites (Utah). Org Geochem 21(6–7):673–683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shang HY, Jiang NH (1984) Gammacerane as a biomarker in terrestrial crude oil and source rocks. Acta Sedimentologica Sinica 2(4):88–96 in Chinese with English abstractGoogle Scholar
  42. Sinninghe Damsté JS, Kenig F, Koopmans MP, Köster J, Schouten S, Hayes JM, de Leeuw JW (1995) Evidence for gammacerane as an indicator of water column stratification. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 59(9):1895–1900CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Song Y, Ren J, Stepashko AA, Li J (2014) Post-rift geodynamics of the songliao basin, ne China: origin and significance of t11 (coniacian) unconformity. Tectonophysics 634:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Spiro B (1984) Effects of the mineral matrix on the distribution of geochemical markers in thermally affected sedimentary sequences. Org Geochem 6:543–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sun T, Duan Y (2011) Geochemical characyeristics of steranes of coal generated hydrocarbons: a case of high temperature and fined simulated experiment. Nat Gas Geosci 22:1082–1087Google Scholar
  46. Tannenbaum E, Ruth E, Kaplan IR (1986) Steranes and triterpanes generated from kerogen pyrolysis in the absence and presence of minerals. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 50(5):805–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ten Haven HL, De Leeuw JW, Peakman TM, Maxwell JR (1986) Anomalies in steroid and hopanoid maturity indices. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 50(5):853–855CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ten Haven HL, De Leeuw JW, Rullkotter J, Sinninghe Damsté JS (1987) Restricted utility of the pristane/phytane ratio as paleoenvironmental indicator. Nature 330(6149):641–643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ten Haven HL, Rullkötter J, De Leeuw JW, Damsté JSS (1988) Pristane/phytane ratio as environmental indicator. Nature 333(6174):604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tissot BP, Welte DH (1984) Petroleum formation and occurrence. Springer-Verlag, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Volkman JK (1986) A review of sterol markers for marine and terrigenous organic matter. Org Geochem 9(2):83–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Volkman JK (1988) Biological marker compounds as indicators of the depositional environments of petroleum source rocks. Geol Soc Lond, Spec Publ 40(1):103–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Volkman JK (2003) Sterols in microorganism. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 60(5):495–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Volkman JK (2005) Sterols and other triterpenoids: source specificity and evolution of biosynthetic pathways. Org Geochem 36(2):139–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wang CG, Cheng KM, Xu YC, Zhao CY (1998) Geochemical hydrocarbon geochemistry of the Jurassic coal in the Turpan Hami Basin. Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  56. Yang YF, Zhang M, Chen JL, Chen XH (2017) Thermal effect on the distribution of regular sterane and geological significance. Open Journal of Yangtze Oil and Gas 2(4):249–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ye LM, Chen HD, Hu XQ et al (2006) The framework of the high-resolution sequence and the paleogeographic evoluntion of the Xujiahe Formation in the West Sichuan foreland Basin. J Stratigr 30(1):87–94 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  58. Yuan Q, Zhang M (2018) Diversities in biomarker compositions of carboniferous-permian humic coals in the Ordos basin, China. Aust J Earth Sci 65(5):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zhang J (2010) Evaluation of hydrocarbon source rocks of Yingcheng Formation in Lishu fault depression, southern Songliao Basin. Journal of petroleum and natural gas 32(6):45–48 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  60. Zhang J, Chen JP, Zhang CM, Wang PR (2002) Relationship between biomarker composition and maturity in coal of Kuche depression. Journal of Jianghan petroleum institute 24(2):27–29 in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhang S, Gong Z, Liang D et al (2004) Geochemistry of petroleum systems in the eastern Pearl River Mouth Basin-I:oil family classification, oil-source correlation and mixed oil analysis. Acta Sedimentologica Sinica 22(S):15–26 in Chinese with English abstractGoogle Scholar
  62. Zhang M, Huang GH, Li HB, Hu GY, Zhang SC (2012) Molecular geochemical characteristics of gas source rocks from the Upper Triassic Xujiahe Formation indicate transgression events in the Sichuan Basin. Sci China Earth Sci 55(8):1260–1268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zhang WL, Qin JZ, Tian L (2000) A study on the origin of high maturity of steranes and the generation of immature oil from Paleogene in Jinxian Sag. Pet Explor Dev 27:27–31Google Scholar
  64. Zhang WL, Tian L (2000) Study on high isomerization degree of sterane and formation mechanism of immature oil in the lower-tertiary Sha no.4 to Kong no.1 of jinxian sag. Petroleum Exploration and Development 27(5): 27–31(in Chinese)Google Scholar
  65. Zhao CY, Zhao WZ, Cheng KM et al (1998) The from ation condition of coal acted as oil-source rock and assessment od oil gencerated potential in Turpan-Hami Basin. Acta Petrolei Sinica 19(3):21–25 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  66. Zhao XF, Lu ZG, Zhang WL et al (2008) Paralic tidal deposits in the Upper Triassic Xuajiahe Formation in Anyue area, the Sichuan Basin. Nat Gas Ind 28(4):14–18 in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  67. Zhu YM, Zhang CM, Zhang M et al (1997) The effects on the formation of rearranged sterane of redox of sedimentary environment. Acta Sedimentol Sin 4:103–108 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  68. Zhu RK, Zhao X, Liu LH et al (2009) Depositional system and favorable reservoir distribution of Xuajiahe Formation in Sichuan Basin. Pet Explor Dev 36(1):46–55 (in Chinese)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentYangtze UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Exploration Technology for Oil and Gas ResearchMinistry of EducationWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations