Biodegradation of Hopanes, Steranes and Tricyclic Terpanes in Heavy Oils
Nine heavy oils were analyzed to investigate the biodegradation of biomarkers. According to the characteristics of the presence of a fully developed series of 25-norhopanes and to the conspicuous depletion of hopanes, regular steranes and even tricyclic terpanes, the level of biodegradation of the samples were determined as ranging from PM 6 to PM 9. Among the samples, hopanes and regular steranes were biodegraded severely and the depletion of hopanes and of regular steranes increased with the increase of the biodegradation level. When the level of biodegradation reaches PM 8, the biodegradation of tricyclic terpanes begins. With the increase of biodegradation, the C21–22 steranes and diasteranes remain unaffected under the biodegradation level of PM 8, indicating that they can be used as conserved “internal standards” to evaluate the biodegradation of hopanes, regular steranes and tricyclic terpanes. However, the C21–22 steranes and diasteranes are degraded when the biodegradation level is over PM 9. Among the C19–26 tricyclic terpanes family, C23 and C21 tricyclic terpanes are the most readily degraded members, followed by C20 tricyclic terpane, while the C19, C22 and C24–26 tricyclic terpanes seem more resistant to biodegradation.
KeywordsBiodegradation Heavy oil Biomarkers Tricyclic terpanes
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