Evidence for synthetic generation of methylphenanthrenes in sediments

Michael F. Voigtmann*, Kezhan Yang, Barry D. Batts, John W. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


All isomers of methylphenanthrene are formed when phenanthrene is reacted with methane and/or long chain n-alkanes in the presence of coals or kaolinite in closed steel reactors in the range 230-360 °C. In particular, the 3-methylphenanthrene isomer, for which a convincing degradative precursor-controlled source has not been described, becomes increasingly prominent at higher experimental temperature due to the 4 → 3 methyl shift promoted by steric interaction at the 4- and 5-positions. Therefore, a geosynthetic origin for the high concentrations of 3-methylphenanthrene in mature carbonaceous sediments is indicated. Furthermore, in a broader sense, the data demonstrate the need to consider synthetic, in addition to degradative, reactions in maturational processes in sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1899-1903
Number of pages5
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • geosynthesis
  • maturation processes
  • methylphenanthrene


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