The conversion of organic matter to petroleum products by hydrothermal activity is an easy process, occurring in nature in many types of environments. Geologically immature organic matter of marine sediments is being altered by this process to petroleum in the Guaymas Basin (Gulf of California), Escanaba Trough and Middle Valley (NE Pacific), Bransfield Strait (Antarctica), and Atlantis II Deep (Red Sea). Contemporary organic detritus and/or viable microorganisms are also converted in part to petroleum-like products when they become entrained by turbulent mixing into the discharging vent waters, resulting in instantaneous hydrous pyrolysis. This latter case is ubiquitous to all hydrothermal systems, but can be studied in hydrothermal vent fields without a sedimentary cover emanating directly from oceanic ridges, as for example on the East Pacific Rise at 13°N and 21°N and on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 26°N. The hydrocarbon products (methane to asphalt) generated in all these areas have been compared in terms of composition, organic matter sources, and analogy to reservoir petroleum. In addition, this type of organic matter rep¬resents a major input of carbon to the primary chemosynthetic bioproductivity of hydrothermal vent systems and may be important to interactions with the metals of hydrothermal mineral ores.
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- Hydrothermal Activity and its Effects on Sedimentary Organic Matter
B. R. T. Simoneit
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg