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GUIDELINES TO INTERPRETATION

The chapter is divided into three parts,each beginning with a brief discussion of concepts and how
biomarker and nonbiomarker analyses are used in the following areas of petroleum geochemistry:

1. Correlation,source,and depositional environment,


2. Maturation,
3. Biodegradation.

In sec.3.1 anda 3.2 the biomarker parameters are arranged in groups of related compounds in the
order:Terpanes,steranes,aromatic steroids,and porphyrins.Within each group the parameters are
arranged according to the frequency of their use in biomarker studies,with the more commonly used
parameters first.Critical information on the frequency of use of the parameter,its specifity for
answering the particular problem and the means for its measurement are highlighted in bold print
above the discussion for each biomarker parameter.in sec. 3.3 the parameters are arranged in
groups showing increasing resistance to biodegradarion.

Most readers will probably use chap. 3 by finding selected parameters in the indes,Glossary,or
Contents .For this reason,discussions of each biomarker parameter contain extensive references to
the literature and text,The reader should remember that discussion of a parametes in one part of
chap.3 is typically supplemented by additional discussion in the order two parts.for example,
oleanane is discussed in parts 1,2,and 3because it can provide information useful for
correlation,source ,depositional environment,maturation,and biodegradation.
3 GUIDELINES

3.1. Correlation,source,and depositional environment


3.1.1. Concepts.Genetic”correlation” of petroleum are based on the principle that the
composition of organic components in a source rock transmitted to the oil.this
“similarity though heritage” can range form bulk properties,such as stable carbon
isotope composition,to individual compound ratios,such as pristane/ phytane.One
advantage of biomarker correlations compared to those using only bulk parameters
is that a variety of specific compounds are used for correlations.

Regardless of the parameters used,a basic rule aplies to all correlation : A


positive correlations is not necessarily”proof” that samples are related.fox
example,source rocks can show similar characteristics. A bitumens from different
strata are even more similar to the oil.On the orther hand,a negative correlation is
strong evidence for lack of a relationship between samples.

Correlations between samples become more reliable when more


parameters are used.this “multiparameter approach” was iniated early to answer
correlation and orther geochemical problems(seifert and moldowan,1978).in this
approach,independent methods such as biomarker and stable isotope analyses are
always applied to support correlations.As will be discussed,certain geochemical
parameters based on ratios of hemologous biomarkers represent source
parameters,while some of the more useful maturity parameters are based on ratios
of stereoisomers.

3.1.1.1. Correlation.
3.1.1.1.1. Oil and source rock screening.pior to any oil-oil or oil-source rock
correlations,prospective oils and source rocks must be selected
or”screened”.oils can be rapidly and inexpensively screened using various
techniques,including stable carbon isotopes(sec.3.1.2.2.2),gas
chromatography(Sec.3.1.2.1),and/or benchtop quadrupole CGMS (Sec.2.5.3.3)
An effective petroleum source rock must satisfy requitments as to the
quantity,quality,and thermal maturity of the organicmatter.tables 3.1.2.3(a)
and3.1.2.3(b) show the generally accepted criteria for describing the
quantity and quality of organic matter source rock,respectively.Criteria for
describing thermal maturity are in table 3.2.2.1.1 For samples from
wells,appropriate potential source rock intervals are selected for sampling
base on evaluation of extensive rock-eval pyrolysis and TOC screening data
in geochemical log format (peters.1986).extensive sampling is recomended
because significant changes in organic facies can occur,even laterally or
verticaly within the same source rock(e.g. Grantham et al,1980;Espitalie
et.al.1987;Burwood et al 1990 peters and cassa,1992)these initial screening
results are followed by more detailed geochemical analyses of critical
samples.
3.1.1.1.2. Oil-source rock correlation.Oil-source rock Correlations are based on the
concept that certain compositional parameters of a migrated oil do not differ
significantly from those of the bitumen remaining in its source rock.Detailed oil-
source rock correlations provide important information on the origin and
possible paths of migration of oils that can lead to additional exploration
plays.Ratios of adjacent homologs or compounds with similar structures such as
the source-dependent biomarker ratios, as will be described ,do not change
from bitumen to migrated oil.For example, the ratio C27-C28-C29 ternary diagrams
(sec.3.1.3.2)does not differ significantly between bitumens and related oils
throughout the oil-generative window.
Exploration is complicated by the fact that many oils migrate from their fine-
grained,organic-rich source rock to coarser grained resevoir rocks.Because both
short and long distane migration of petroleum can occir and several
petentialsource rocks are generally avaible in a given basin,the source for many
oils remain problematic.

Note : oils from the monterey formation in california are commonly found within or
stratigraphically near the source rock.oils in the devonian pinnacle reefs of western
canada appear to have migrated from nearby sources,while those at athabasca have
probably migrated up to 100 km or more from source rock to resevoir

The reader should be aware that compositional relationships between


source rock bitumen and related,migratedoils might be obscured for several
reasons.these potential problems are listed below in decreasing order of
importance.Items (4)dan (5) appear to show only very slight potential as problems
in correlations studies based on limited avaible data.

1. Bitumen from proposed source rock sample might contain undetected


migrated oil or contaminants that are not representative of the indigenous
hydrocarbons
2. Most oil-source rock correlations require equivalent or at least similar levels of
thermal maturity for the bitumen and oil samples to be compare
3. Oils-source rock studiesn are tipically limited to a few selected potential source
rock.in nature,oils may represent a composite of migrated materials generated
from thick sections of source rock.if the samples of potential source rock in the
study are not respresentarive of the composite section which generated the
oil,incorrect conclusions might result.
4. Expulsion/migration affects the distribution of compounds showing radically
diferrent molecular weight,polarities,or adsorpitivities.for example,migrated
oils are tipically enriched in saturated and aromatics and depleted in NSO-
compounds(nitrogen,sulfur,oxygen)and asphaltnes compared to related
bitumens(hunt,1979;Tissot and welte,1984;peters et al.,1990).Biomarker
showing only minor differences in polarity or configuration can show some
changes in relative distributions due to migration through clay,as
demonstrated in laboratory studies(clarson and chamberlain,1986).These
effects may reflect primary migration(expulsion) out of the fine-grained
sediments of the source rock rather than secondary migration through coarse-
grained carrier beds to the resevoir.
5. Because migration may continue throughout much of the petroleum
generation process,and because different compounds are generated at
different times during this process,the composition of a resevoired petroleum
may not exactly coincide with that being generated at a given time in the
source rock.For Example,Mackenzie et al(1985) sugest that oil accumulations
could be averaged mixtures of organic fluids representing a range of
maturities.According to these authors,catagenesis results in decreases in
concentrations of biomarkers tha could exaggerate the contributions of less
mature source to given resevoir.

Depite these potential problems,when adequate source rock samples are obtained,succesful oil-
source rock correlations are the rule rather than the exception.However,certainmajor problems,such
as origin of the athabasca oils in canada(Brooks et.al,1988) or the oils in tertiary resevoirs in the Gulf
Coast (schumacker and Kennicutt,1989),remain controversial.

3.1.2.