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International Research Journal of Chemistry and Chemical Sciences

Vol. 6(1), pp. 103-110, August, 2019. © www.premierpublishers.org. ISSN: 9661-0255

Research Article

Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in


some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals
*1Uzoegbu M.U., 2Oghonyon R., 3Ugwueze C.U
1,2,3Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

A total of Twenty-one coal and carbonaceous shale samples were collected from four boreholes
in Mamu and Awgu Formations of Lower and Middle Benue Trough, Nigeria. The samples were
subjected to Elemental analysis using Gas Chromatography and Gas Chromatography- Mass
Spectrometry (GC-MS).The saturated fraction was subjected to urea adduction to separate
isoprenoids from n-alkanes and subjected to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
using a CE 5980 GC coupled to an HP Finnigan 8222 MS held at 80oC for three minutes and raised
to 310oC at 3oC min-1 and held isothermally for 10 minutes in order to assess some molecular
parameters used in source rock characterization. The short chain/long chain saturated fatty acid
(ATRFA) ratios for the samples which ranges from 0.85-1.00 and the carbon preference index
(CPIFA) of the long chain n-fatty acids (C24-C30) ranging between 1.27 and 3.29 indicates both
terrestrial and marine organic matter derived materials. The distribution of straight chain n-alkan-
2-ones ranges from nC14 to nC33, maximizing at nC17 is an indication of contribution from higher
plants.

Keywords: Alkanones, Benue trough, coal, Fatty acids, environment of formation Organic matter.

INTRODUCTION
Aliphatic wax lipids in the range ofC22-C32 were identified typically composed of C20-C32 n-alkanols and C12-C30
as the major extractable components of angiosperm n-alkanoic acids (Otto and Simpson, 2006).Generally,
leaves, barks and roots (Huang et al., 1995; Lockheart et short chain n-fatty acids (<C20) are believed to originate
al., 2000; Kogel-Knaber 2002; Yuang and Huang, 2003). from algae and microorganisms, whereas long chain
Similar distributions have been reported in sediments and homologues are thought to be derived from higher land
macrofossils (Logan and Eglinton, 1994; Huang et al., inputs (Brown et al., 1972; Cranwell, 1974; Duan et al.,
1995, 1996; Lockheart et al.,2000). The functionalized 1998).
lipids are partly degraded during diagenesis (Bechtel et
al.,2001). The wax esters, their hydrolysis products, and There has been considerable interest in a series of long
the free alkanol and fatty acids are preferentially degraded straight chain acyclic ketones and a C18-isoprenoid
to aldehyde, ketones and alkanes by microorganisms ketone which occur widely in ancient rocks, oil shales,
(Puttmann and Bracke, 1995). These degradation peats, coals, young sediments and living organisms
pathways favor short chain (<C20)n-alkanes that are (Cranwell, 1977; Volkman et al.,1980b; Cranwell et al.,
predominantly found in algae and microorganisms 1987; Lehtonen and Ketola, 1990; Rontani et al., 1992,
(Cranwell, 1984). Tuoand Li, 2005). Long chain acyclic ketones are detected
as homologues series and usually show similar distribution
Abundance of short-chain n-alkanoic acids and iso-
alkanoic acids reflect microorganism input (Otto and
Simpson, 2006). Vascular plants contribute significantly *Corresponding Author: Uche Mmaduabuchi Uzoegbu,
long-chain (C16-C32) alkanols and alkanoic acids Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, University of
(Barthlott et al., 1998) from waxes, suberin and cutin (Otto Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Email:
and Simpson, 2006). Plant wax esters (C34-C72)are uche.uzoegbu@uniport.edu.ng

Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals
Uzoegbu et al. 104

to alkanes (Tuo and Li, 2005). The n-alkan-2-ones, n- eustatic cycles; the more pronounced Nkporo
alkan-3-ones and n-alkan-4-ones have also been detected transgression and the less active Nsukka transgression
in lipid fractions extracted from aerosol particulate matter with the Anambra basin showing the most complete
(Simoneit et al., 1988, 1991), hydrothermal petroleum and stratigraphic sections (Fig. 1). These cycles are also found
sediment extracts from Guyama Basin (Leif and Simoneit, in the Afikpo syncline SE of the Abakaliki anticlinorium and
1995). The higher alkenones (>C25) homologues with a the Dahomey embayment, west of the Ilesha basement
high odd carbon number predominance were interpreted spur, although both are incomplete (Murat, 1972).
to originate from vegetation wax by oxidation while the The first cycle which took place during the Lower
lower homologues (<C25) with no odd or even Carbon Campanian to the Maastrichian started with the deposition
number predominance were thought to originate from of the Nkporo whose lateral (age) equivalents are the
anthropogenic sources by combustion or exposure to high Enugu and Owelli (Fig. 2). This is the basal unit of the
temperature (Leif and Simoneit, 1995). The C37 andC38 Campano-Maastrichian transgression and comprises of
diunsaturated methyl and ethyl ketones are dark mudstone, gray, fissile friable shales with thin beds of
biosynthesized by a limited number of haptophyte bacteria marl, sandy shale and limestone overlying an angular
like Prymnesiophyte algae (Volkman et al., 1980; 1995), unconformity (Reyment, 1965).
Emiliania huxleyi (Sonzogoni et al., 1997; Schouten et al.,
2000) and Gephyrocapsa oceanica (Schouten et al., The regressive phase was marked with the development
2000). Their distributions are now widely used as specific of a large offlap complex, starting with the paralic
indicators of past sea surface temperature (SSTs) and the sequence of the Mamu (Lower coal measure) overlying the
unsaturation ratios can provide a reliable indicator of the Nkporo (Reyment, 1965). It is thought to be lower
temperature at which they are biosynthesized (Brassel et Maastrichian in age with a basal part that contains thin
al., 1986; Phral and Wakeham, 1987). marine intercalations, while the coal bearing part consist of
fresh water and low salinity sandstones, shale, mudstone
The 6,10,14-Trimethylpentadecan-2-one is quite common and sandy shales with coal seams occurring at several
in nature, occurringwidely in sediments, water particulate levels (Simpson, 1955).
matter and recently in coals (Volkman et al.,1983, Rontani
et al., 1992, Tuo and Li, 2005).These isoprenoid ketones The Mamu formation is overlain by the continental
could be produced from free phytol by bacteria sequence of the Ajali. This sandstone unit has received
degradation and photosynthesized oxidation, several names such as false bedded sandstone (Tattam,
photosynthesized oxidation of some isoprenoids 1944), basal sandstone (Simpson, 1955) etc. iIts present
hydrocarbons and during photo degradation of - name was given by Reyment (1965) after establishing its
chlorophyll (Tuo and Li, 2005). type locality at the Ajali. Virtually all exposures of the
formation are characterized by a lateritic profile at the top.
The homologous series of alkan-2-ones is generally found It was deposited during the regressive phase of the
with an odd carbon number predominance and its source Campano-Maastrichian transgression and the age is
is likely microbial (Leif and Simoneit, 1995; Bai et al.,2006). Maastricthian.
It has been proposed that n-alkan-2-ones are formed by
microbially mediated -oxidation of alkanes (Cranwell et The Ajali sandstone is overlain conformably by the Nsukka
al., 1987; Rieley et al., 1991; Simoneit et al., 1998;) or from Formation (Upper coal measures), and it consists of
-oxidation and decarboxylation of n-fatty acids (Volkman alternating succession of gray sandy shales, sandstones,
et al., 1983). n-Alkan-2-ones maximizing at C25 or C27 plant bearing beds and thin beds of coal (Reyment, 1965).
have been reported in higher plants, microalgae and Thin bands of marine limestone heralded the return of
phytoplankton (Gonzalez-Vila et al., 2003; Bai et al., marine sedimentation at the top of the formation. These
2006). This research aims in determining the possible type dark shales and the intensely bioturbated sandstones are
of lipid and alkanones in some thermally immature organic well exposed at Ihube, along the Enugu – Port Harcourt
matter and determining the environment of formation of the expressway. The age range of the formation is late
organic matter of Nigerian coals. Maastrichian to Danian based on the fossil record. This
formation bears the K/T boundary which is described by
STRATIGRAPHIC SETTING Reyment (1965) as a period of transition in Nigeria. Mbuk
et al. (1985) identified this boundary in the Nsukka
The infilling of the Anambra and Afikpo started during the Formation in Ozu Abam area of Abia State.
Campanian to the Paleocene (Danian) under two major

Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals
Int. Res. J. Chem. Chem. Sci. 105

Fig. 1: Generalized geological map of Nigeria (boxed areas of inset) showing the geological map of the Anambra Basin.
Numbers indicate Cretaceous and Tertiary formations shown as follows: 1. Asu River Group; 2. Odikpani Formation; 3.
Eze-Aku Shale; 4. Awgu Shale; 5. Enugu/Nkporo Shale; 6. Mamu Formation; 7. Ajali Sandstone; 8. Nsukka Formation; 9.
Imo Shale; 10. Ameki Formation and 11. Ogwashi-Asaba Formation (after Akande et al., 2007).

REMARKS
SEDIMENTARY LITHOLOGY DESCRIPTION DEPOSITIONAL Coal ANKPA ONITSHA
AGE
SEQUENCE ENVIRONMENT Rank SUB- SUB-
BASIN BASIN
Lignites, peats,
MIOCENE OGWASHI- Estuarine
Intercalations of
(off shore bars;
Liginites REGRESSION
OLIGOCENE ASABA FM. Sandstones &

ION
shales Intertidal flats)

Unconformity
SIT
PO
AMEKE NANKA Clays,shales, Subtidal, intertidal
EOCENE
DE

Sandstones flats, shallow marine (Continued


FM. SAND Transgression
NO

& beds of grits


Due to geoidal
IMO SHALE . . . . . .. . Clays, shales Sea level rise)
.. . . . & siltstones
Marine
PALEOCENE (? MINOR
Clays, shales, thin REGRESSION
? Estuarine Sub-
NSUKKA FM. sandstones & coal bituminous
seams
N
IA

Coarse sandstones,
HT

Lenticular shales, Subtidal, shallow


AJALI SST.
IC

beds of grits & marine


TR

Pebbls.
AS

Clays, shales, Estuarine/ off-shore TRANSGRESSION


Sub-
MA

carbonaceous bars/ tidal flats/ (Geoidal sea level


MAMU FM. bituminous
Rise plus crustal
shale, sandy shale chernier ridges
& coal seams Movement)
3rd Marine
ENUGU/ cycle
CAMPANIAN NKPORO SHALE Clays & shales Marine
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Unconfor mity
CONIACIAN- AWGU SHALE 2nd Marine
SANTONIAN Clays &
cycle
EZEAKU SHALE
shales Marine
TURONIAN
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Unconfor mity
CENOMANIAN 1st Marine
ODUKPANI FM.
cycle
ALBIAN ASU RIVER GP.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Unconfor mity
L. PALEOZOIC B A S E M E N T C O M P L E X

Fig. 2: The Stratigraphy of the Anambra Basin Southeastern Nigeria (After, Ladipo, 1988 and Akande et al., 1992; Modified
in Uzoegbu et al., 2013b).

Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals
Uzoegbu et al. 106

MATERIALS AND METHODS and alkanones distribution in the coal extracts are listed in
Tables 1 and 2 respectively.
A total of nine samples comprising of six coals, two
carbonaceous shales and one coaly shale were collected Awgu samples have n-fatty acids ranging from C14 to C30,
from 2 boreholes (BH94 and BH120) from Awgu Formation maximizing at nC16 ornC18(Fig. 3). The short chain/long
(BH). The coal seams and interbedded shale in BH94 and chain saturated fatty acid (ATRFA) ratios for the samples
BH120 were sampled between 218-431 m and 131- 289 which range from 0.97-1.00, indicate both terrestrial and
m depths respectively. In Mamu Formation, twelve marine organic matter derived material (Wilkes et al.,
samples consisting of nine coals and three carbonaceous 1999). Abundance of short chain saturated n-fatty acids
shales were collected from Okaba (OBA) and Onyeama (<nC20) in the samples reflects mixed input of
(AMA) with co-ordinates of 07o 28ˈN, 07o 43ˈE and 06o 28ˈ microorganisms and algae (Duan et al., 1997; Killops and
N, 07o 26ˈE). Killops, 2005). The nC16and nC18 are prominent in all the
samples. These compounds are ubiquitous and can also
In the laboratory, the samples were reshaped using a reflect higher plant input e.g. seed and leaf oils of
rotating steel cutter to eliminate surface that could be gymnosperms (Volkman et al.,1998). The appreciable
affected by alteration. Chips were cut from the samples amount of long chain saturated n-fatty acids(>C20) in the
and dried in an oven at 105oC for 24 hours. The dried samples can be attributed to curticular waxes of higher
sample was pulverized in a rotating disc mill to yield about plants (Cranwell,1974).
50 g of sample for analytical geochemistry. The samples
were subjected to flame ionization detection (FID) for The carbon preference index (CPIFA) of the long chain n-
hydrocarbons thermal conductivity detection (TCD) for fatty acids (C24-C30) range between 1.98 and 3.29 (Table
CO2. One milligram of bulk powder sample was added to 1), indicating a strong even over odd predominance.
200 mg of KBr and the mixture homogenized using a These values inferred high maturity status for the samples
pestle in an agate mortar. Pressing the mixture using a (Wilkes et al., 1999). The distribution of straight chain n-
load of 10 t yielded a pellet for Fourier Transform Infrared alkan-2-ones ranges from nC14 to nC33,maximizing at
(FT-IR) Spectroscopy using a Nicolet Bench 505P nC17(Fig. 4). Similar distribution has previously been
Spectrometer, with sample absorbance monitored using observed in stalagmites (Xie et al., 2003; Bai et al., 2006).
256 scans with resolution of 4 cm-1 from a wave-number of However, some of the samples maximize at nC23 or
4000 – 400 cm-1. About 10 g of the sample was subjected nC25(Fig. 4), an indication of contribution from higher
to sohxlett extraction using a solvent mixture of acetone, plants, microalgae and phytoplankton organic matter
chloroform and methanol (47: 30: 23 v/v) at 60oC for 24 inputs (Hernandez et al., 2001;Gonzalez-Vila et al., 2003).
hours to extract the soluble organic matter. The extract
was concentrated by evaporation to dryness using a
rotating vapour evaporator at 250 mb. The extract was
transferred to an 8 ml vial using the same solvent mixture
and allowed to evaporate to dryness in a vented hood. The
dried extract was fractionated by silica gel column
chromatography with a column prepared using 2 g of baker
silica gel calcined at 200oC for 24 hours to yield six
fractions ranging from saturate to polar.

The saturate fraction was subjected to urea adduction to


separate isoprenoids from n-alkanes and subjected to gas Fig. 3: m/z 74 mass chromatogram showing the
chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) using a CE distribution of n-fatty acids in Awgu samples (Numbers
5980 GC coupled to an HP Finnigan 8222 MS held at 80oC refer to carbon chain lengths of n-fatty acids).
for three minutes and raised to 310oC at 3oC min-1 and held
isothermally for 10 minutes in order to assess some
molecular parameters used in source rock
characterization.

RESULTAND DISCUSSION
The distributions of fatty acids in the polar fraction have
been successfully used to differentiate the biological
source of geological materials (Duan et al., 1997).The m/z
58 and m/z 74 mass chromatograms showing the
distributions of the saturated n-fatty acids and alkan-2- Fig. 3: (contd.): m/z 74 mass chromatogram showing the
ones in the coal extracts are shown in Figs.3,4,5,6,7 and 8 distribution of n-fatty acids in Awgu samples (Numbers
respectively. Parameters calculated from the fatty acids refer to carbon chain lengths of n-fatty acids).

Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals
Int. Res. J. Chem. Chem. Sci. 107

Table 1: Parameters calculated from n-Fatty acids and alkanones composition of Awgu Formation.
Sample N0 Depth (m) Lithology ATRFA CPILFA Pr-2-one/C17 CPI (alkanone)
BH218 218.5-222.5 Carbonaceous shale 0.99 nd 0.58 0.84
BH407 407.4-412.5 Coaly shale 0.99 nd 0.80 0.85
BH417 417.0-422.0 Coal 1.00 nd 1.09 1.14
BH131 131.7-136.6 Coal 0.99 nd 0.51 0.89
BH148 148 Coal 0.99 2.46 0.60 0.76
BH168 168.8-173.7 Coal 0.99 1.98 0.39 1.01
BH212 212.1-216.2 Coal 0.99 3.29 1.59 0.76
BH247 247 Carbonaceous shale 0.97 3.20 0.86 0.93
BH286 286.0-289.0 Coal 0.98 nd 0.82 1.20
ATRFA = Short chain/long chain saturated fatty acid
CPILFA= Carbon Preference Index (Longchain fatty acids)
CPI (alkanones)= Carbon Preference Index (alkan-2-ones).
ATRFA = C14 + C16 + C18 / C14 + C16 + C18 + C26 + C28 + C30
CPILFA=½{(C24+C26+C28+C30/C21+C23+C25+C27)+(C24+C26+C28+C30/C23+C25+C27+C29)}
CPI(alkanones)=1/2{(C25+C27+C29+C31+C33)/(C22+C24+C26+C28+C30+C32)
+(C25+C27+C29+C31+C33)/ C24+C26+C28+C30+C32+34}}
nd – Not determined

Fig. 4: m/z 58 mass chromatograms showing the


distributions of alkan-2-ones in Awgu samples (Numbers
refer to carbon chain lengths of alkan-2-ones).

Mamu samples have saturated n-fatty acids ranging from


C8 to C32 , maximizing at nC16 or nC18(Fig. 5 and 7). These Fig. 5: m/z 74 mass chromatogram showing the
distributions reflect organic matter from both marine and distribution of n-fatty acids in Mamu samples (Okaba)
terrestrial materials (Volkman et al., 1998). However, the (Numbers refer to carbon chain lengths of n-fatty acids).
dominance of short chain (<C20) saturated n-fatty acids
maximizing at C16 is an indication of substantial
contribution of microorganism/algal to the organic matter.
The appreciable quantity of long chain saturated n-fatty
acids (>nC22) in the samples canbe attributed to the
contribution of higher plants to the organic matter
(Cranwell, 1974). The short chain/long chain saturated
fatty acid (ATRFA) ratios range from 0.85 to 0.96. These
values indicate organic matter derived from mixed origin
(Wilkes et al., 1999). The carbon preference index
(CPILFA)for the long chain saturated n-fatty acids range
between 1.25 and 2.78, indicating a slight even over odd
predominance (Table 2). These values indicate low
maturity(Wilkes et al., 1999).
Fig. 6: m/z 58 mass chromatograms showing the
The n-alkan-2-ones range from nC12 to nC33, maximizing
distributions of alkan-2-ones in Mamu samples (Okaba)
at nC17 or nC29 (Fig. 6 and 8). These distributions reflect
(Numbers refer to carbon chain lengths of alkan-2-ones).
higher plants and algae inputs to the organic matter (Bai
et al., 2006). The CPI values range from 1.27 to 1.69 and
2.10 to2.66 in Onyeama and Okaba samples respectively
(Table 2). These values indicate low maturity status for all
the samples (Tuo et al., 2007).

Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals
Uzoegbu et al. 108

Table 2: Parameters calculated from n-Fatty acids and alkanones composition of Mamu Formation.
Sample N0 Depth (m) Lithology ATRFA CPILFA Pr-2-one/C17 CPI (alkanone)
AMA5 4.6-5.8 Carbonaceous shale 0.95 1.47 4.39 1.27
AMA4 6.0-6.8 Coal 0.91 1.37 10.54 1.45
AMA3 6.8-7.3 Coal 0.92 1.61 8.69 1.51
AMA2 7.6-8.4 Coal 0.92 2.07 12.18 1.69
AMA1 8.4-8.8 Coal 0.96 1.25 7.45 1.30
AMA6 9.0-9.5 Carbonaceous shale 0.94 1.61 4.10 1.60
OBA4 16.5-17.6 Carbonaceous shale nd nd nd nd
OBA3 18.0-18.5 Coal 0.85 2.78 8.68 2.66
OBA2 18.6-18.9 Coal 0.93 1.37 7.69 2.25
OBA1 18.9-19.3 Coal 0.94 1.95 12.69 2.59
OBA5 19.3-19.6 Coal 0.96 1.44 13.71 2.49
OBA6 19.6-20.0 Coal 0.91 2.51 21.43 2.10
ATRFA = Short chain/long chain saturated fatty acid
CPILFA= Carbon Preference Index (Longchain fatty acids)
CPI (alkanones)= Carbon Preference Index (alkan-2-ones).
ATRFA = C14 + C16 + C18 / C14 + C16 + C18 + C26 + C28 + C30
CPILFA=½{(C24+C26+C28+C30/C21+C23+C25+C27)+(C24+C26+C28+C30/C23+C25+C27+C29)}
CPI(alkanones)=1/2{(C25+C27+C29+C31+C33)/(C22+C24+C26+C28+C30+C32)
+(C25+C27+C29+C31+C33)/ C24+C26+C28+C30+C32+34}}
nd – Not determined

Fig. 8: m/z 58 mass chromatograms showing the


distributions of alkan-2-ones in Mamu samples (Onyeama)
Fig. 7: m/z 74 mass chromatogram showing the (Numbers refer to carbon chain lengths of alkan-2-ones).
distribution of n-fatty acids in Mamu samples (Onyeama)
(Numbers refer to carbon chain lengths of n-fatty acids).
CONCLUSION

Coal and coaly organic matter samples were collected


from coal bearing measures of Lower and Middle Benue
Trough, Nigeria. These samples were subjected to Gas
Chromatography and Gas Chromatography-Mass
Spectrometry analyses. The distributions of fatty acids and
n-alkan-2-ones showed that Awgu samples were formed
from organic matter derived from both terrestrial and
marine organic matter while Mamu samples were derived
from terrestrial organic matter.

Fig. 7: (contd.): m/z 74 mass chromatogram showing the


distribution of n-fatty acids in Mamu samples (Onyeama)
(Numbers refer to carbon chain lengths of n-fatty acids).

Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals
Int. Res. J. Chem. Chem. Sci. 109

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Distribution of Possible Fatty Acids and Alkanones in some Thermally Immature Nigerian Coals