ORGANIC GEOCHEMISTRY OF HUMIC ACIDS FROM A NEOGENE LIGNITE SAMPLE, BULGARIA
Humic substances naturally occur in Miocene/Pliocene-aged lignite at very high concentrations. Here biomarkers in the bitumen-free extract of humic acids from Thracian lignite, Bulgaria, are studied. Applying methods of organic geochemistry a broad range of compounds are isolated and characterised. Species are classified according to abundance, possible source input and diagenetic transformation. A feature of humic acids derived from Thracian coal is the extremely high content of 16α(H)Phyllocladane, ~60% of aliphatic fraction, or 1.6 wt.% of initial lignite. The high diterpenoids content, especially with abietane skeleton, proved the conifer contribution to the peat-forming helophytes, i.e. Cupressaceae s. str., Podocarpaceae, Araucariaceae, Taxodiaceae, Phyllocladus, Piceae. Tightly-trapped, linear long-chain fatty acids (FAs) are the main constituents of the acidic fraction of humic acids. Their distribution patterns indicate a dominant higher plant origin. The presence of αOH-FAs and hopanoid acids assumes bacterial activity in the plant material reworked. A hint for the input of plant biopolymers, i.e. cutin, suberin, is the relative high content of “even” carbon numbered ωΟΗFAs and α,ω-alkanedioic FAs. “Even” numbered short-chain ωΟΗFAs could originate from cutin-derived constituents of the needles of numerous species of gymnospermous families.