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About Kerogen


The primary source of hydrocarbons in the rocky underground is called kerogen: lumps of organic matter.


Facts for Prelims

About Kerogen

Definition and Composition:

  • Kerogen is the portion of naturally occurring organic matter that is insoluble in organic solvents.
  • Represents about 90% of the organic carbon in sediments.

Occurrence and Properties:

  • Found in source rock and can expel hydrocarbons upon thermal cracking.
  • Typical organic constituents include algae and woody plant material.
  • Consists of both lighter and heavier hydrocarbons.

Role in Hydrocarbon Formation:

  • Acts as a precursor to oil and natural gas.
  • Has a high molecular weight compared to bitumen or soluble organic matter.
  • Bitumen forms from kerogen during petroleum generation.

Types of Kerogens:

  • Type I: Mainly algal and amorphous kerogen, highly likely to generate oil.
  • Type II: Mixed terrestrial and marine source material, can generate waxy oil.
  • Type III: Woody terrestrial source material, typically generates gas.

Impact on Hydrocarbon Generation:

  • The type of kerogen largely determines the type of hydrocarbons produced in the rock.
  • Different kerogen types contain varying amounts of hydrogen relative to carbon and oxygen.
  • The hydrogen content of kerogen controls the yield of oil vs. gas from primary hydrocarbon-generating reactions.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024