Emplacement and biodegradation of oil in fractured basement: the ‘coal’ deposit in Moinian gneiss at Castle Leod, Ross-shire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)


Bitumen veins were formerly mined as ‘coal’ from Moinian metamorphic basement at Castle Leod, Strathpeffer, Ross-shire. The abundance and spatial concentration of hydrocarbons implies generation of a large volume of oil that exerted a fluid pressure great enough to open veins to 1+ m width. Biomarker characteristics, including β-carotane and a high proportion of C28 steranes, correlate the bitumen to Lower Devonian non-marine shales separated from the Moinian basement by a major fault. Bitumen in the Moinian basement has higher diasterane/sterane ratios than bitumen in the Devonian sequence, indicating greater levels of biodegradation, which may reflect more interaction with water in the basement. Replacive bitumen nodules in the Moinian basement, containing thoriferous/uraniferous mineral phases, are comparable with bitumen nodules in basement terrains elsewhere. Formation of the nodules represents hydrocarbon penetration of low-permeability basement, consistent with high fluid pressure. Bitumen veins are particularly orientated E-W, and may be associated with E-W transfer faults attributed to Permo-Carboniferous basin inversion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Issue number1
Early online date7 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • Moinian
  • bitumen
  • fractured reservoir
  • basement reservoir
  • oil migration


Dive into the research topics of 'Emplacement and biodegradation of oil in fractured basement: the ‘coal’ deposit in Moinian gneiss at Castle Leod, Ross-shire'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this