Australasian asphaltite strandings revisited: Their origin and the effects of weathering and biodegradation on their biomarker and isotopic profiles
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Reports of bitumen strandings on the coastlines of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia date from the early 19th Century (Sprigg and Woolley, 1963; Currie et al., 1992; Volkman et al., 1992; McKirdy et al., 1994; Padley, 1995; Edwards et al., 1998 and references therein). The locations of these strandings along Australia’s southern margin (Fig. 1), and their greater frequency in southeastern South Australia, western Victoria and southern Tasmania, fuelled early petroleum exploration in the region on the assumption that they were sourced from local submarine seepages (Sprigg, 1986; Volkman et al., 1992; McKirdy et al., 1994). Accounts describe a variety of oily substances that can be assigned to three categories, each with a different origin: oils (crude and refined), waxy bitumens and asphaltites (McKirdy et al., 1986, 1994; Padley, 1995; Edwards et al., 1998).
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