Organic Geochemistry

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Organic geochemistry is a comparatively new research area within the geosciences and covers a wide range of tasks and application thereby constituting an important approach to the research of the geo-biosphere.

After natural or anthropogenically produced biogenic products have been released into the environment, they transfer from the biosphere, via detour through the hydro- and atmosphere, into the geosphere, a process termed diagenesis. Organic geochemistry studies the various chemical reactions of the organic material as it is enters the subsurface. The influence of microbial activity and the physical and chemical conditions of the environment (temperature, pressure, alkalinity, redox potential, etc.) exert a major control on the chemical reactions occurring during diagenesis. Hereby, specific molecular structures are preserved or newly formed, according to the environmental conditions prevailing. Diagenetic processes create biomarkers, which can be used to deduce the conditions of formation and to draw conclusions about the origin of the organic material.

Organic geochemistry includes the following areas: petroleum geochemistry, reconstruction of fossil environments, organic evolution and environment-contamination studies.