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Nature. 2003 Nov 20;426(6964):327-33.

Organic-inorganic interactions in petroleum-producing sedimentary basins.

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Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, MS #4, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA.


Petroleum deposits form as a consequence of the increased temperatures that accompany progressive burial of organic matter deep within sedimentary basins. Recent advances in petroleum geochemistry suggest that inorganic sedimentary components participate in organic transformations associated with this process. Water is particularly important because it facilitates reaction mechanisms not available in dry environments, and may contribute hydrogen and oxygen for the formation of hydrocarbons and oxygenated alteration products. These findings suggest that petroleum generation and stability is influenced by subsurface chemical environments, and is a simple function of time, temperature and the composition of sedimentary organic matter.

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