Many of the elements on the periodic table have ‘isotopes’ that have the same chemical properties with different mass numbers.  The different ratios of these isotopes can be measured in many of the chemical components that make up gases, oils, contaminants, and water.

Often, the isotope ratios for these different chemical components will possess a distinct ‘signature’ that can be used to identify their specific source and provide ways to evaluate a variety of processes in the oil/gas industry including oil/gas genesis (thermogenic/bacterial), oil/gas maturation, migration/transport pathways, and degradation pathways in the subsurface.

In many cases, including stable isotope analysis into a geoforensic investigation can provide key insight into the local and regional gas/oil/water sources and the reactive processes that are occurring on these sources in the environment (gas migration, microbial processes, mixing between sources).

Potential Bacterial End Members

Bernard, B. B.; Brooks, J. M.; Sackett, W. M., Earth and Planetary Science Letters 1976, 31, (1), 48-54.


Whiticar, M. J. (1999). Chemical Geology 161(1-3): 291-314.

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