Helmholtz-Zentrum Deutsches Geoforschungszentrum

Composition, Properties, Origin and Formation of Asphaltites - Improved Process Understanding through Advanced Geochemical Characterization


Recent years have seen an increased interest in studying the characterization, composition, and properties of solid and viscous liquid natural bitumen. These kinds of fossil fuels are allochthonous, non-disseminated organic matter and often viewed as remnants of altered oils which have been subjected to secondary processes such as biodegradation, water washing and/or maturation. Asphaltite as one of the most important forms of this type of fossil fuels is mainly composed of hydrocarbons, as well as relatively large amounts of sulphur- and nitrogen-containing compounds. In this research project we investigate possible geological and geochemical controls on the distribution of different compound chemical classes in solid bitumens in surface and reservoired locations. Furthermore, by investigating the related potential source rocks and oils, it is expected to correlate them with solid bitumens and discover how these different geological conditions (e. g. thermal maturity and/or biodegradation) influences on their chemical composition.


  • Comprehensive geochemical characterization of the composition of solid bitumens;
  • Improved understanding of the geochemical and geological mechanisms of solid bitumen formation;
  • Special emphasis on the characterization of polar and high molecular weight compounds (asphaltenes and NSO compounds) in studied samples using advanced geochemical techniques such as FT-ICR MS. 


  • Seyed Hossein Hosseini (Ph. D Student at GFZ)
  • Prof. Dr. Brian Horsfield (GFZ)
  • Prof. Dr. Heinz Wilkes (University of Oldenburg)
  • Dr. Stefanie Pötz (GFZ) 

Cooperation partners

  • Prof. Dr. Orhan Kavak (Dicle University, Turkey)
  • Prof. Dr. M. Namık Yalçın (Istanbul University, Turkey)
  • Dr. Mehrab Rashidi (NIOC, Iran)
  • Prof. Dr. Reinhard F. Sachsenhofer (Montan University Leoben, Austria)
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