The carbon isotopic composition of individual petroleum lipids

I. Gilmour, P. K. Swart, C. T. Pillinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A combination of gas chromatography and stable isotope mass spectrometry has been used to investigate the carbon isotopic composition of individual petroleum lipids. The technique, known as gas chromatography isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-IRMS) is capable of separating a few micrograms of specific heavy hydrocarbons to allow measurement of their carbon isotopic composition. Stable isotope compositions of whole oils are already used as a tool in the petroleum industry, but as is well known, the bulk value is only an average of the components and may, of course, be misleading if considered in isolation. It is envisaged that a knowledge of intermolecular isotopic ratios of simple alkanes and aromatics will give such molecules, for correlation purposes, the specificity of more complicated molecules. A suite of three oils from a Central European Basin have been used to investigate the value of GC-IRMS for correlation purposes. Two of the oils are known to come from the same family while the third is unrelated on the basis of conventional geochemical methods of correlation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-670
Number of pages6
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • carbon isotopes
  • gas chromatography
  • isotopes
  • lipids
  • stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'The carbon isotopic composition of individual petroleum lipids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this