Molecular Marker Compounds

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Molecular Marker Compounds

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This course describes the geochemistry and application of molecular marker compounds ("biomarkers") in petroleum source rocks and crude oils. The objectives are to measure maturity and assess palaeoenvironment of deposition.

The course provides an introduction to biomarkers, biomarker classes, isoprenoids, steroids, hopanoids, aromatic hydrocarbons, and non-hydrocarbon biomarkers. Biomarkers in sediments and the application of biomarkers in petroleum geochemistry (biological sources, maturity) are discussed, as is the application of light hydrocarbon gases in petroleum geochemistry.

Course Objectives

On completion of the course, delegates will:

  • have learned the structures and origins of the important classes of biomarkers (including non-hydrocarbons) in petroleum geochemistry;
  • understand how molecular markers can be used as indicators of maturity and of organic matter origin;
  • appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the biomarker approach, and understand their routine applications in petroleum exploration;
  • know how to identify the different biomarkers from their mass spectra and mass chromatogram fingerprints;
  • be able to put this ability into practice in the interpretation of the biomarker distributions of samples.

Course Outline

  • Introduction to biomarkers;
  • Biomarker classes;
  • Applications of biomarkers to determination of maturity;
  • Biomarkers in sediments;
  • Markers for biological inputs;
  • Hopanoids;
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons;
  • Non-hydrocarbon biomarkers;
  • Light hydrocarbon gases;
  • BHPs, GDGTs and IPLs.

Update to course content

Please note that our courses are reviewed regularly, both in response to feedback and so that information about recent research and developments can be included. Thus, content may be subject to change.

Who is the course aimed at?

Geoscientists working in the petroleum industry would benefit greatly from this course on biomarkers. The course is aimed both at those with no knowledge or for specialists wanting to update knowledge especially for those interested in oil-rock and oil-oil correlations.


School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences


  • Molecular Marker Compounds
    • £1275

We offer a 30 percent discount to full time students and to Newcastle University staff.

The course fee includes tuition, course materials, lunch and refreshments.

[ Information about Cancellations ]

Formal assessment may be available for this Course. Assessment attracts an additional fee of £350, and delegates will be issued with a transcript and Certificate of Credit Achieved. Owing to visa restrictions the assessment option is not available to international students outside the European Economic Area (EEA).


Prerequisite knowledge

It is anticipated that delegates who attend the course will have a reasonable level of knowledge of the following topics:

  • Chemistry
  • Geology

Please contact the Professional Development Unit if you require further information.

Academic Module Outline

This course is also delivered as a Module (code CEG8621) on at least one of the School's Masters programmes, the majority of which can be studied part time, making them suitable for those in employment. Delegates will attend with full and part time registered students. The Academic Module Outline is available via the University's Module Catalogue.

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