Geochemical evaluation of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in Palaeogene source rocks from the Latrobe Group, Gippsland Basin, Australia

Lian Jiang*, Simon C. George

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Twenty-seven hydrocarbon source rocks from the Proteacidites asperopolus, Malvacipollis diversus and Lygistepollenites balmei biozones, Palaeogene Latrobe Group in the Gippsland Basin were analysed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Based on the molecular geochemistry of the aliphatic and aromatic fractions, together with bulk geochemical data (including Rock-Eval pyrolysis and total organic carbon contents), the thermal maturity, palaeoenvironments, and organic matter source of these Palaeogene samples were systematically evaluated. The results provide a useful comparison with those from Upper Cretaceous source rocks in the Gippsland Basin (Jiang and George, 2018, 2019). Similar to the Upper Cretaceous rocks, the aliphatic hydrocarbons in the Paleogene samples are mainly comprised of n-alkanes, isoprenoids, terpanes, hopanes and steranes. The aromatic hydrocarbons are dominated by naphthalene, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluorene, dibenzofuran, dibenzothiophene and their alkyl homologues. Other aromatic hydrocarbons detected include land plant-derived compounds (e.g. retene, methylretenes, cadalene, simonellite, etc), and combustion-derived compounds (e.g. chrysene, pyrene, picene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[a]anthracene, etc). These 4- to 6-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are more abundant in the Paleogene samples compared to the Upper Cretaceous rocks. Biomarker and aromatic hydrocarbon distributions indicate that the Proteacidites asperopolus and Malvacipollis diversus samples are immature or are in the early stage of the oil generation window, while the Lygistepollenites balmei samples correspond to the low maturity to mature stage. The samples were all deposited under sub-oxic to oxic conditions in fresh water with low salinity, possibly in a lacustrine depositional environment. The organic matter inputs are from plankton/algae and higher land plants, but are dominated by organic matter with a terrigenous origin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104516
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Gippsland basin
  • Palaeogene
  • Latrobe group
  • Coaly shale
  • Aromatic triterpane
  • Angiosperm


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