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Geochemistry and petrology of Palaeocene coals from Spitsbergen — Part 1: oil potential and depositional environment

Marshall, Chris; Large, David J.; Meredith, Will; Snape, Colin E.; Uguna, Clement N.; Spiro, Baruch F.; Orheim, Alv; Jochmann, Malte; Mokogwu, Ikechukwu; Wang, Yukun; Friis, Bjarki


Chris Marshall

Abbott Professor of Geoscience

Professor of Chemical Technology & Chemical Eng

Clement N. Uguna

Baruch F. Spiro

Alv Orheim

Malte Jochmann

Ikechukwu Mokogwu

Yukun Wang

Bjarki Friis


Abundant oil prone coal (Type III kerogen) deposits are preserved within the high latitude, middle Palaeocene, Todalen member of the Central Tertiary Basin, Spitsbergen Island, Norwegian Arctic. The coals (Svea, Longyear, Svarteper and Askeladden seams) have been subjected to only minor previous geochemical characterisation. Focussing upon the Longyear seam, this paper characterises the present, prospective and economic oil potential of the Svalbard coals. Organic biomarker parameters, Fe–S chemistry and coal maceral analysis are then applied to understand the provenance and environmental origins of this unusual source rock. The upper Todalen Mbr. coals (Longyear, Svarteper and Askeladden seams) have significantly more oil potential than the Lower Svea seams with estimated retortion yields of 170–190 kg/tonne vs. 24 kg/tonne respectively. The Longyear seam exhibits relatively high HI values (ca. 300–400 mg/g TOC) consistent with a hydrogen rich mixed Type II/III kerogen source. Greatest oil potential is shown to be favoured by formation within a fen environment, with high bacterial degradation (> 100 μg/g TOC hopanes), marine influence (> 0.5 wt.% sulfur, Fe/S < 0.9) and the unique temperate high latitude Palaeocene climate of Svalbard leading to preservation of hydrogen rich organic matter via organo-sulfur bond formation.


Marshall, C., Large, D. J., Meredith, W., Snape, C. E., Uguna, C. N., Spiro, B. F., …Friis, B. (2015). Geochemistry and petrology of Palaeocene coals from Spitsbergen — Part 1: oil potential and depositional environment. International Journal of Coal Geology, 143, doi:10.1016/j.coal.2015.03.006

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 10, 2015
Online Publication Date Mar 17, 2015
Publication Date Apr 1, 2015
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2017
Journal International Journal of Coal Geology
Print ISSN 0166-5162
Electronic ISSN 1872-7840
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 143
Keywords Palaeocene, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Arctic Norway, Non-marine source rocks, Coal, Hopane
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