Australian contributions to the field of organic geochemistry

R. E. Summons, Simon C. George, K. Grice

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Many of the significant studies in organic geochemistry that have been conducted by Australian scientists relate to that continent's specific geological and geobiological attributes including coal, old rocks and marine microbes. Early studies conducted by researchers at CSIRO, BMR and University of Melbourne (eg John Smith, Basis Johns, Trevor Powell, David McKirdy, Chris Boreham and Michael Wilson) were concerned with characterization of Gondwanan coals and coal-derived hydrocarbons. At that time, the specific characteristics of Permian and Mesozoic coals and carbonaceous shales, and their proneness to produce petroleum hydrocarbons, such as giant oil fields in the Gippsland Basin, was a topic of some controversy. Northern Hemisphere coals, which had received considerable more attention, were not known to generate significant quantities of petroleum. Following that, identification of novel saturated and aromatic hydrocarbons derived from plant terpenoids became a focal point of the group at Curtin University of Technology led by Robert Alexander and Robert Kagi. These structural and synthetic studies were followed by successful use these compounds as tracers of source rocks for oils of the Cooper-Eromanga Basin system and the Northwest Shelf. Investigation of the Earth's Precambrian hydrocarbons and kerogens is another topic that attracted the attention of researchers at BMR-AGSO (eg Powell, Summons and Logan), CSIRO (George and co-workers) and the Universities of Adelaide and Sydney. Studies of marine natural products, including many varieties of lipids and oils, has been a third focus area where major contributions originated from the work of John Volkman, Peter Nichols and their numerous students and co-workers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event229th ACS National Meeting - San Diego, California
Duration: 13 Mar 200517 Mar 2005


Conference229th ACS National Meeting
CitySan Diego, California


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