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Organic geochemistry – A retrospective of its first 70 years

Kvenvolden, Keith A.


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    <subfield code="a">Organic geochemistry had its origin in the early part of the 20th century when organic chemists and geologists realized that detailed information on the organic materials in sediments and rocks was scientifically interesting and of practical importance. The generally acknowledged "father" of organic geochemistry is Alfred E. Treibs (1899–1983), who discovered and described, in 1936, porphyrin pigments in shale, coal, and crude oil, and traced the source of these molecules to their biological precursors. Thus, the year 1936 marks the beginning of organic geochemistry. However, formal organization of organic geochemistry dates from 1959 when the Organic Geochemistry Division (OGD) of The Geochemical Society was founded in the United States, followed 22 years later (1981) by the establishment of the European Association of Organic Geochemists (EAOG). Organic geochemistry (1) has its own journal, Organic Geochemistry (beginning in 1979) which, since 1988, is the official journal of the EAOG, (2) convenes two major conferences [International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry (IMOG), since 1962, and Gordon Research Conferences on Organic Geochemistry (GRC), since 1968] in alternate years, and (3) is the subject matter of several textbooks. Organic geochemistry is now a widely recognized geoscience in which organic chemistry has contributed significantly not only to geology (i.e., petroleum geochemistry, molecular stratigraphy) and biology (i.e., biogeochemistry), but also to other disciplines, such as chemical oceanography, environmental science, hydrology, biochemical ecology, archaeology, and cosmochemistry.</subfield>
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