An immature sulfur-rich marl from the Gessosso-solfifera Formation of the Vena del Gesso Basin (Messinian, Italy) has been subjected to hydrous pyrolysis (160 to 330??C) to simulate maturation under natural conditions. The kerogen of the unheated and heated samples was isolated and the hydrocarbons released by selective chemical degradation (Li/EtNH2 and HI/LiAIH4) were analysed to allow a study of the fate of sulfur- and oxygen-bound species with increasing temperature. The residues from the chemical treatments were also subjected to pyrolysis-GC to follow structural changes in the kerogens. In general, with increasing hydrous pyrolysis temperature, the amounts of sulfide- and ether-bound components in the kerogen decreased significantly. At the temperature at which the generation of expelled oil began (260??C), almost all of the bound components initially present in the unheated sample were released from the kerogen. Comparison with an earlier study of the extractable organic matter using a similar approach and the same samples provides molecular evidence that, with increasing maturation, solvent-soluble macromolecular material was initially released from the kerogen, notably as a result of thermal cleavage of weak Carbon-heteroatom bonds (sulfide, ester, ether) even at temperatures as low as 220??C. This solvent-soluble macromolecular material then underwent thermal cleavage to generate hydrocarbons at higher temperatures. This early generation of bitumen may explain the presence of unusually high amounts of extractable organic matter of macromolecular nature in very immature S-rich sediments.
Additional publication details
Release of sulfur- and oxygen-bound components from a sulfur-rich kerogen during simulated maturation by hydrous pyrolysis