- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
The last twenty years have seen great advances in the understanding of petroleum and natural gas resulting from the application of new technologies, in particular high-resolution analytical and spectroscopic methods. These advances, coupled with traditional use of natural observation and experimental simulations, have enabled the development of mathematical models which can predict the kinetics of petroleum and natural gas generation and migration in basin models (Tissot and Welte 1984; Allara and Shaw 1980; Savage and Klein 1987; Barth and Nielsen 1993; Freund 1992; Broadbelt et al. 1995; Larter 1984; Horsefield et al. 1989; Domine 1987, 1989; Behar and Vandenbroucke 1988; Ungerer 1990; Burnham and Braun 1990; Lewan 1993, 1997; Leythaeuser et al. 1984; Pepper 1992; Sandvik and Mercer 1990; Sandvik et al. 1991; Stainforth and Reinders 1990; Tang and Stauffer 1994; Tang and Behar 1995; Curry 1995; Behar et al. 1995, 1997; Welte et al. 1997). Based on the results from natural observations, experimental simulations, and mathematical modeling, researchers have established the most important parameters governing the quantity and composition of petroleum and natural gas are temperature, type of organic matter (kerogen), and time (or heating rate) (Tissot and Welte 1984; Horsefield et al. 1989; Ungerer 1990; Burnham and Braun 1990; Lewan 1993, 1997; Behar et al. 1995, 1997; Tang and Behar 1995; Welte et al. 1997). Therefore, there is an increasing need to understand the detailed chemical nature of organic matter (kerogen) as well as the kinetics and mechanisms associated with petroleum and natural gas generation.
Kerogen is a tremendously complex macromolecule which is still insufficiently characterized to develop fundamental, predictive models of thermal cracking …