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AAPG Bulletin

Abstract


Volume: 67 (1983)

Issue: 3. (March)

First Page: 385

Last Page: 393

Title: Pristane, Phytane, and Lower Molecular Weight Isoprenoid Distributions in Oils

Author(s): Harold A. Illich (2)

Abstract:

Phytane in oils is assumed to be mainly a diagenetic product of the phytol side-chain of the ubiquitous plant pigment, chlorophyll. Pristane may be derived from several sources in addition to phytol. Isoprenoids containing fewer than 19 carbons are rare in the biomass and consequently are derivatives of pristane, phytane, or higher molecular weight compounds.

The interdependence of phytane and isoprenoids containing less than 20 carbons is considered in this study. The relationships of pristane to phytane, and pristane and phytane to lower molecular weight isoprenoids, are linear. The lines of best fit commonly possess a positive intercept on the dependent variable axes (pristane and lower molecular weight isoprenoids). The positive y-axis intercept suggests that a fraction of pristane and a fraction of lower molecular weight isoprenoids cannot be attributed to chlorophyll (phytol) diagenesis. This observation supports the conclusion that some amount of the nonphytane isoprenoid assemblage must be attributed to a higher molecular weight "parent" compound(s) whose identity can only be suggested.

Isoprenoid ratios and distributions have been useful in geochemical correlations (oil-oil). However, the correlation value of these hydrocarbons should be viewed critically because of the "partial" interdependence of phytane and lower molecular weight isoprenoids.

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