Chemical structure of the organic matter in a Pliocene maar-type shale: Implicated Botryococcus race strains and formation pathways

Sylvie Derenne, Claude Largeau, Magdolna Hetényi, Alice Brukner-Wein, Jacques Connan, Bernard Lugardon

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A maar-type Pliocene oil shale from Pula (Hungary) was examined by Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy (SEM, TEM) bitumen analysis, spectroscopic analyses (FTIR, solid state 13C NMR) and pyrolytic analyses of insoluble material. The investigated samples, corresponding to the "massive section" of Pula deposit, exhibit TOC values ranging from 18 to 42%, and Rock-Eval analysis indicated that such samples are comprised of low maturity type I kerogen. Electron Microscopy observations confirmed that recognizable microfossils in this organic matter-rich material almost exclusively correspond to Botryococcus braunii colonies, the morphology of which is perfectly retained. Identification of bitumen and pyrolysate constituents (hydrocarbons, ketones, fatty acids), along with morphological and spectroscopic features, indicate (1) that B. braunii provided a major input to the most organic matter-rich section of Pula oil shale; (2) that both the n-alkadienes-producing and the lycopadiene-producing strains (A and L, respectively) were present; (3) that the selective preservation of the insoluble and non-hydrolysable macromolecules building up B. braunii outer walls was by far the main process in the formation of this material; (4) that such a process, along with B. braunii prolific growth in the favourable environment that occurred in the crater lake, accounts for the very high TOC and oil potential of Pula deposit; and (5) that the condensation of high molecular weight ether lipids from the A race and of some bacterial lipids also likely contributed to Pula kerogen formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1879-1889
Number of pages11
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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