New triaromatic steroids distinguish Paleozoic from Mesozoic oil

Silvana M. Barbanti, J. Michael Moldowan, David S. Watt, E. Kolaczkowska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Certain biomarkers in petroleum provide information on of the geologic age of its source rock and these can also be used to track the evolution, radiation and relationships between taxa and as proxies for paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Triaromatic 23,24-dimethylcholesteroids (TA-DMC), which undoubtedly derive from 23,24-dimethylcholesterols in dinoflagellates, haptophytes and diatoms, provide a useful parameter to distinguish Paleozoic from Mesozoic and younger oil and rock extracts at higher specificity than previously proposed biomarkers. In this report, we present a study of the relative abundance of a novel series of TA-DMC in source rock extracts and crude oil from different global localities and ages. Based on their taxon specificity for important primary producers, such biogeochemicals also have implications for paleoenvironmental studies, including paleoclimate and global change, such as radiations following the Permian-Triassic boundary mass extinction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-424
Number of pages16
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Center for Structural Biology Chemistry Core Facility, the NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the Molecular Organic Geochemistry Industrial Affiliates (MOGIA) of Stanford University for providing the funding. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Jürgen Rullkötter and Dr. Roger E. Summons for their reviews of the manuscript and helpful comments, and Frederick J. Fago of Stanford University for assistance in preparing the pyrolyzate.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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