Geochemical characteristics and correlation of oil and nonmarine source rocks from Mongolia

Cari L. Johnson, Todd J. Greene, David A. Zinniker, J. Michael Moldowan, Marc S. Hendrix, Allan R. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


New bulk and molecular organic geochemical analyses of source rock and oil samples from Mongolia indicate the presence of lacustrine-sourced petroleum systems in this frontier region. Samples of potential source rocks include carbonate, coal, and lacustrine-mudstone lithologies that range from Paleozoic to Mesozoic in age, and represent a variety of tectonic settings and depositional environments. Rock-Eval and total organic carbon data from these samples reflect generally high-quality source rocks, including both oil- and gas-prone kerogen types, mainly in the early stages of generation. Bulk geochemical and biomarker data indicate that Lower Cretaceous lacustrine mudstone found in core from the Zuunbayan field is the most likely source facies for the East Gobi basin of southeastern Mongolia. Oil and selected source rock samples from the Zuunbayan and Tsagan Els fields (both in the East Gobi basin) demonstrate geochemical characteristics consistent with nonmarine source environments and indicate strong evidence for algal input into fresh- to brackish-water source facies, including elevated concentrations of unusual hexacyclic and heptacyclic polyprenoids. Despite similarities between Zuunbayan and Tsagan Els oil samples, biomarker parameters suggest higher algal input in facies sourcing Zuunbayan oil compared to Tsagan Els oil. Tsagan Els oil samples are also generated by distinctly more mature source rocks than oil from the Zuunbayan field, based on sterane and hopane isomerization ratios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-846
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003


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