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Authors: Milkov, Alexei V.* 
Etiope, Giuseppe* 
Title: Revised genetic diagrams for natural gases based on a global dataset of >20,000 samples
Issue Date: 2018
Series/Report no.: /125 (2018)
DOI: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2018.09.002
Abstract: The origin of natural gases, in particular those containing methane (CH4 or C1), ethane (C2H6 or C2), propane (C3H8 or C3) and carbon dioxide (CO2), is commonly interpreted using binary genetic diagrams of d13C-C1 versus C1/(C2 + C3), d13C-C1 versus d2H-C1 and d13C-C1 versus d13C-CO2. These diagrams are empirical, but their currently used genetic fields were proposed around 30–40 years ago based on geographically and geologically limited datasets of tens to few hundreds gas samples. As a result, many recently collected gas samples plot outside of accepted genetic fields making these genetic diagrams partly inadequate for the purpose of gas interpretation. Here, we update the genetic diagrams using geochemical and geological data on 20,621 gas samples from a variety of geographical areas (76 countries and territories on six continents) and geological habitats (conventional and unconventional petroleum reservoirs, petroleum seeps and mud volcanoes, gas hydrates, volcanic/geothermal/hydrothermal manifestations, seeps and groundwater in serpentinized ultramafic rocks, aquifers, freshwater and marine sediments, igneous and metamorphic rocks). The revision includes genetic fields for primary microbial gases from CO2 reduction and methyl-type fermentation, secondary microbial gases generated during petroleum biodegradation, thermogenic and abiotic gases. The genetic field of thermogenic gases now includes early mature (d13C-C1 as low as 75‰) and very late mature (d13C-C1 around 15‰) gases recently recognized in various petroleum systems. Abiotic C1 is not necessarily 13C-enriched (d13C > 20‰) as was often considered in the past. The d13C values of abiotic C1 can be as negative as around 50‰, although a minor component of biotic (microbial or thermogenic) C1 is often associated with abiotic gas. In addition, the diagrams display molecular and isotopic changes that accompany post-generation processes of mixing, migration, biodegradation, thermochemical sulphate reduction and oxidation. The proposed diagrams cover the vast majority of hydrocarbon-containing gases currently known to exist in nature, are the most comprehensive empirical gas genetic diagrams published to date, and thus represent an essential tool for interpretations of natural gases. Still, holistic integration of geochemical and geological data is necessary to better interpret the origin of natural gases and processes that affected their composition.
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