Definition - What does Kerogen mean?

Kerogen is a naturally occurring, mixture of organic chemical compounds that form a major chunk of organic matter in the sedimentary rocks which when heated can yield crude oil. There are two types of organic matter that are found in the sedimentary rocks, i.e., land derived organic matter and aquatic algae derived organic matter. When this organic matter undergoes through high amount of pressure and temperature, it gets converted into “Humin” and then into Kerogen. With time and under high pressure, the Kerogen is converted into crude oil.

Petropedia explains Kerogen

Kerogen is insoluble in the usual organic solvents and is composed of various organic substances such as algae, wood, pollen, vitrinite, etc. Different types of Kerogen contain different amounts of hydrogen relative to oxygen and carbon and thus control the type of hydrocarbon that will be generated in the sedimentary rocks in due course of time. There are four types of Kerogens whose types are arranged in decreasing order of their proneness to get converted into more oil. Thus, Kerogen that has a high predominance to produce oil will have abundance of hydrogen.

Kerogen TypeHydrocarbon Potential from Higher to Lower predominance orderAmount of Hydrogen PresenceDepositional environment
IOnly Crude Oil ProneIn AbundanceLacustrine
IICrude Oil and Natural Gas ProneModerateMarine
IIIOnly Gas ProneSmallTerrestrial
IVInert Material and no pronenessNoneCould be Terrestrial
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