The host sample might come in many different forms – oil, rock from a drill core, or an outcrop. The nature of the project controls the type of source rock or oil we collect. Though cores are the ideal sample, most often we end up with outcrop samples and must make sure they are not too weathered or altered to yield good paleoenvironmental information. The rocks that are most conducive to hydrocarbon biomarker analysis are:
- High in organic content
The first step in the analysis is to crush these rocks in our rock room. One of the most important aspects of organic geochemistry, and all lab work, is to keep the laboratory and the samples uncontaminated from human organic material and from other samples. Before, after, and in between every sample, we clean the equipment with three different organic solvents: methanol, dichloromethane (DCM), and hexane. With the sample, which is now rock powder, we extract the bitumen and kerogen.