Sedimentary 24-n-propylcholestanes, molecular fossils diagnostic of marine algae

J. Michael Moldowan, Frederick J. Fago, Cathy Y. Lee, Stephen R. Jacobson, David S. Watt, Nacer Eddine Slougui, Alwarsamy Jeganathan, Donald C. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


Certain C30-steranes have been used for identifying sedimentary rocks and crude oils derived from organic matter deposited in marine environments. Analysis of a C30-sterane from Prudhoe Bay oil indicates that these C30-steranes are 24-n-propylcholestanes that apparently are derived from precursor sterols 24-n-propylidene-cholesterols and 24-n-propylcholesterol. These widely occurring sterols are biochemically synthesized in modern oceans by members of an order (Sarcinochrysidales) of chrysophyte algae. These data thus imply that C30-sterane biomarkers in sedimentary rocks and crude oils have a marine origin. Screening of a few organic-rich sedimentary rocks and oils from throughout the Phanerozoic suggests that these C30-steranes first appeared and, therefore, their source algae evolved between Early Ordovician and Devonian.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-312
Number of pages4
Issue number4940
StatePublished - Jan 19 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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