Hydrothermal generation of hydrocarbons in basement rocks, Southern Tuscany

Andrea Schito* (Corresponding Author), David Muirhead, Stephen Bowden, John Parnell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Carbonaceous material in the form of graphitic carbon, amorphous carbon and liquid hydrocarbons occurs in the metamorphic rocks of Monti Romani in Southern Tuscany. Raman spectroscopic analyses show a contrast in structural ordering between carbon in the host rocks and carbon films and nodules at the contact with high temperature mineralized veins. Microscopy and gas chromatography additionally indicate liquid hydrocarbons, with a thermal maturity at the peak of the oil window. The association of hydrocarbons with high temperature fluids together with gas chromatographic and spectroscopic data indicate a probable hydrothermal origin of the oils, from the late Miocenic sediments that fill the Tafone Graben. A model is proposed in which hydrocarbons were generated along the fault that borders the Tafone Graben and then migrated toward the basements rocks at the footwall. The presence of 25-norhopane indicates biodegradation in the depth interval between about 100 and 1500 m. The hydrothermal generation of hydrocarbons could occur in other geothermal areas in Southern Tuscany where the presence of hydrocarbons has been reported but never fully explained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-244
Number of pages14
JournalItalian Journal of Geosciences
Issue number2
Early online date26 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

The work has been possible thanks to the Royal Society of Edinburgh
and Accademia dei Lincei Bilateral visit grant, to which GC-MS, fluid
inclusions and CL data have been produced. Alex Brasier and John Still
are acknowledged for help with preparing CL images. Sveva Corrado is
kindly acknowledge for organization of the first field trip and stimulating
discussion in the first phases of the work. We thank Claudia Romano for the
use of EVPLab laboratories for Raman spectroscopic analyses. Gabriele
Berardi is acknowledged for help during sampling and Amalia Spina and
Andrea Brogi for fruitful discussions and suggestions. Editor in chief
Federico Rossetti, the Associated Editor Orlando Vaselli, Fabio Massimo
Petti, Roberto Galimberti and two anonymous reviewer are aknowledge
for stimulating comments and suggestions during manuscript revisions.
The work was funded by the University of Aberdeen.


  • hydrothermal hydrocarbons
  • basement rocks
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • fluid inclusions
  • biomarkers


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