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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 87, No. 1 (January 2003),P. 89-97.

Copyright ©2003. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Vacuum desorption of light hydrocarbons adsorbed on soil particles: A new method in geochemical exploration for petroleum

Liuping Zhang1

1Key Laboratory of Mineral Resources, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Science, P.O. Box 9825, Beijing 100029, People's Republic of China; email: [email protected]


Liuping Zhang received a B.S. degree in geochemistry from Beijing University and a Ph.D. in geochemistry from China University of Geosciences. He has more than ten years' experience in research and application of surface geochemistry in petroleum exploration and has explored and developed methods for soil-adsorbed hydrocarbons, radon measurement, anomaly recognition, and interference elimination. His research interests include surface geochemical prospecting, mathematical geology, geofluids, diagenesis, petroleum secondary migration, and seals.


It is with much gratitude that I acknowledge the instruction, encouragement, and support that Tianjian Ruan and Qi Fei gave me for this research. Special thanks also go to Martin Hale and Ronald W. Klusman for their reviews of earlier versions of this article.


Light hydrocarbons in soils are the most important indicators in geochemical hydrocarbon exploration. However, the methods ac tually used to detect light hydrocarbons in soil sometimes provide data with a low signal-to-noise ratio and/or high level of interfer ence. This research explores vacuum desorption, a new method for light hydrocarbon analysis. Vacuum desorption is a partial extrac tion technique designed to identify light hydrocarbons that are tightly adsorbed on soil particles. This method was used in the Huimin sag (basin) of east China. Microseepage anomalies are de veloped over oil pool S105 of the Shanghe field in this basin and larger seepage anomalies are developed over faults.

In contrast to the method of acid-extraction of soil hydrocar bons, the vacuum desorption method provides a low-noise back ground that enables a more effective identification of anomalies. The new method is also cost and time effective and is capable of covering large areas.

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