Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 9896–9903 | Cite as

Geochemical characteristics of n-alkanes and isoprenoids in coal seams from Zhuji coal mine, Huainan coalfield, China, and their relationship with coal-forming environment

  • Shanshan Wang
  • Guijian Liu
  • Jingjing Liu
Research Article


Ten coal seams in Upper Shihezi Formation, Lower Shihezi Formation, and Shanxi Formation from the Zhuji mine, Huainan coalfield, China, were analyzed for n-alkanes and isoprenoids (pristine and phytane) using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), with an aim of reconstructing the coal-forming plants and depositional environments along with organic carbon isotope analyses. The total n-alkane concentrations ranged from 34.1 to 481 mg/kg. Values of organic carbon isotope (δ13Corg) ranged from − 24.6 to − 23.7‰. The calorific value (Qb,d), maximum vitrinite reflectance (Romax), proximate, and ultimate analysis were also determined but showed no correlation with n-alkane concentrations. Carbon Preference Index (CPI) values ranged from 0.945 to 1.30, suggesting no obvious odd/even predominance of n-alkane. The predominance of C11 and C17 n-alkanes implied that the coal may be deposited in the fresh and mildly brackish environment. According to the contrary changing trend of pristine/phytane (Pr/Ph) ratio and boron concentrations, Pr/Ph can be used as an indicator to reconstruct the marine transgression-regression in sedimentary environment of coal formation. The influence of marine transgression may lead to the enrichment of pyrite sulfur in the coal seam 4-2. C3 plants (− 32 to − 21‰) and marine algae (− 23 to − 16‰) were probably the main coal-forming plants in the studied coal seams. No correlation of the n-alkane concentration and redox condition of the depositional environment with organic carbon isotope composition were found.


n-Alkane Coals Organic carbon isotope Depositional environments Zhuji coal mine 



This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2014CB238903) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41402133). We acknowledge editors and reviewers for polishing the language of the paper and for the in-depth discussion.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Crust-Mantle Materials and the Environment, School of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentThe Chinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina

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