To provide detailed insights into the molecular processes that affect organic matter which becomes part of the geosphere. The products formed and preserved are discussed with reference to diagnostic signals, e.g. molecular and isotope proxies, relevant to fossil fuel formation, palaeoenvironmental - and palaeoclimatic reconstructions (i.e. Molecular palaeontology).
Please note: This course will be taught compressed in a 5-weeks full time format (week 17 up and until week 22)
- Biochemistry, Organic molecules and Sources of organic matter: Chemical evolution of organic molecules, isotopes, Phylogenetic tree of life, Membranes: Lipid biochemistry, different lipids, i.e. fatty acids, alkanes, acyclic isoprenoids, steroids, terpenoids; Macromolecules: sugars, proteins and peptides, DNA and RNA, resins, lignins, biopolyesters, biopolymers.
- Preservation and the Quality of organic matter: Chemical stability versus depositional environment, chemical taphonomy; Preservation models: neogenesis, selective preservation, in-situ polymerization; Export productivity, Oxygen exposure time (OET); Marine versus terrigenous sources; Preservation versus production; Sulphur and Oxygen incorporation, Lignin, soil organic; Soil organic matter.
- Molecular palaeontology: Biomarkers: molecular markers based on carbon skeleton, position and nature of functional groups and/or stable carbon isotope composition. Biological markers as indicators of evolution of Life on earth. Biomarkers in relation to the phylogenetic tree of life; Age-related biomarkers: Molecular proxies for palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimate reconstructions: sea surface temperatures, photic zone anoxia, anaerobic methane oxidation, C3/C4 vegetation shifts, atmospheric pCO2 changes.
- Diagenesis, catagenesis, fossil fuel formation, petroleum geochemistry: Diagenetic transformation reactions; Chemical transformation reactions during catagenesis; Coalification; Oil and gas formation; biomarkers as indicators for thermal maturity, oil-source rock correlation and biodegradation; oil exploration and oil exploitation.