Journal of Geosciences and Geomatics
ISSN (Print): 2373-6690 ISSN (Online): 2373-6704 Website: Editor-in-chief: Maria TSAKIRI
Open Access
Journal Browser
Journal of Geosciences and Geomatics. 2021, 9(1), 28-44
DOI: 10.12691/jgg-9-1-4
Open AccessArticle

Biomarker Geochemical Evaluation of Organic Rich Shales in Mamfe Basin, Cameroon

Edwin Ayuk Ndip1, 2, , Christopher M. Agyingi1, Matthew E. Nton2 and Michael A. Oladunjoye2

1Department of Geology, Petroleum Geoscience Research Group at University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon

2Department of Geosciences, Pan African University-University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Pub. Date: May 14, 2021

Cite this paper:
Edwin Ayuk Ndip, Christopher M. Agyingi, Matthew E. Nton and Michael A. Oladunjoye. Biomarker Geochemical Evaluation of Organic Rich Shales in Mamfe Basin, Cameroon. Journal of Geosciences and Geomatics. 2021; 9(1):28-44. doi: 10.12691/jgg-9-1-4


The Mamfe Basin is an intra-continental basin in southwestern Cameroon. Shale from Cretaceous strata in the Mamfe Formation has been poorly characterized in terms of their palaeo-environmental conditions and origin of the organic matter. Also, the thermal maturity of the shale has not been well established. The aim of this study is to determine the origin of the organic matter, evaluate the thermal maturity, palaeo-environmental conditions, and thereby deduce their hydrocarbon generative potential. Biomarker geochemical analyses was carried out on the organic matter extracts of some selected shale samples from Mamfe Formation having total organic carbon content ranging from 0.69 and 4.50 wt. % (av. =1.82 wt. %). Base on the total organic carbon content, the shales are described to have good hydrocarbon generative potentials. Thermal maturity parameters base on 20S/(20S +20R), and ββ/(ββ + αα) C29 sterane ratios along with CPI and OED indicate that the analysed samples from Mamfe Formation sit at mature oil window generation. The origin of the organic matter have been deduced to be mainly of terrestrial plant source with minor lacustrine and marine influences. Palaeo-environmental conditions were decipher to be of sub-oxic to anoxic conditions that have preserved the organic matter. This study have highlight valuable insight based on the biomarker geochemistry of the shales of the Mamfe Basin thereby reducing petroleum exploration risk.

mamfe formation shale organic matter total organic carbon biomarker geochemistry

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Eseme, E., Littke, R., and Agyingi, C. M., (2006). Geochemical characterization of a Cretaceous black shale from the Mamfe Basin, Cameroon. Petroleum Geoscience, v.12, p. 69-74.
[2]  Ndip E. A., Christopher M. A., Mathew E.N., James C.H., and Michael A.O., (2019). Organic Petrography and Petroleum source rock evaluation of the Cretaceous Mamfe Formation, Mamfe Basin, Southwest, Cameroon Inter. J Coal Geology 202: 27-37.
[3]  Reyment, R. A., (1954).The stratigraphy of the Southern Cameroons. Geologiska FöreningensI Stockholm Förhandlingar, v. 76, p. 661-683.
[4]  Reyment, R. A., (1965). Aspects of the geology of Nigeria. Ibadan University press, Ibadan, 145pp
[5]  Abolo, M. G. (2008). Geology and petroleum potential of the Mamfe Basin, Cameroon, Central Africa, Africa Geoscience Review. Special Publication, v. 1 and 2, p. 65-77.
[6]  Eyong, J. T., (2003). Litho - Biostratigraphy of the Mamfe Cretaceous Basin, S.W. Province of Cameroon – West Africa. Ph.D. thesis, University of Leeds, 265 pp.
[7]  Peters K.E., and Moldowan J.M. (1993).The biomarker guide: interpreting molecular fossils in petroleum and ancient sediments. Prentice Hall, Inc, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
[8]  Peters K.E., Walters C.C., and Moldowan J.M. (2005). The biomarker guide: biomarkers and isotopes in petroleum exploration and earth history, second ed, vol 2. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
[9]  Hakimi M.H., Wan Hasiah A., Shalaby M.R. (2011).Organic geochemical characteristics and depositional environments of the Jurassic shales in the Masila Basin of Eastern Yemen. Geo Arabia 16: 47-64.
[10]  Hakimi M.H., Abdullah W.H., Shalaby M.R (2012).Molecular composition and organic petrographic characterization of Madbi source rocks from the Kharir Oilfield of the Masila Basin (Yemen): palaeoenvironmental and maturity interpretation. Arab J Geosci 5: 817-831.
[11]  Burton, Z. F. M., Moldowan, J. M., Sykes, R., Graham, S. A. (2018). Unravelling petroleum degradation, maturity, and mixing and addressing impact on petroleum prospectivity: insights from frontier exploration regions in New Zealand. Energy & Fuels, 32(2), 1287- 1296.
[12]  Burton, Z. F., Moldowan, J. M., Magoon, L. B., Sykes, R., & Graham, S. A. (2019). Interpretation of source rock depositional environment and age from seep oil, east coast of New Zealand. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 1-13.
[13]  Petters, S. W., (1978). Stratigraphic evolution of the Benue Trough and its implications for the Upper Cretaceous paleogeography of West Africa. Journal of Geology, v. 86, p. 311-322.
[14]  Benkhelil, J., (1989).The origin and evolution of the Cretaceous Benue Trough (Nigeria Journal of African Earth Sciences, v. 8, p. 251-2824.
[15]  Fairhead, J.D., and Green, C.M., (1989). Controls on rifting in Africa and the regional tectonic model for the Nigeria and East Niger rift basins. Journal of African Earth Sciences 8 (2/3/4), 231-249.
[16]  Bassey, C. E., Eminue, O. O., and Ajonina, H. N., (2013). Stratigraphy and deposition environments of the Mamfe Formation and its implication on the tectonosedimentaryevolution of the Ikom-Mamfe Embayment, West Africa. Central European Journal.
[17]  Eyong, J. T., Wignall, P., Fantong, W. Y., Best, J., Hell, J. V., (2013).Paragenetic sequences of carbonate and sulphide minerals of the Mamfe Basin (Cameroon): Indicators of palaeofluids, palaeo- oxygen levels and diagenetic zones. Journal of African Earth Sciences, v.86, p. 25-44.
[18]  Dumort, J.C. (1968).Carte Géologique de reconnaissance a 1/500000 avec notice explicative. Feuille Douala-Quest. Direction des Mines et de Géologie, Cameroun.
[19]  Wilson, R.C., 1928. Notes on the geology of the Mamfe Division, Cameroon Province. Geological Survey of Nigeria Occasional Paper 6.
[20]  Ndip E.A., Agyingi, C.M., Nton, M.E., Oladunjoye, M.A., (2018). Review of the geology of Mamfe. Sedimentary basin, SW Cameroon, Central Africa. J. Oil, Gas Petrochem. Sci.
[21]  Tissot, B.P., Welte, D.H., (1984). Petroleum Formation and Occurrence, 2ndedn.springer, New Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Tokyo.
[22]  Peters K.E., and Cassa, M.R., (1994). Applied source rock Geochemistry. In: L.B.Magoon, and W.G.Dow, eds., The Petroleum system- From source to trap, APPG Memoir 60,Tulsa, Oklahoma, p.93-117.
[23]  Espitalié, J., Deroo G., and Marquis F., (1985). Rock-Eval pyrolysis and its applications. Second part. Review of the French Institute of Petroleum 40 (6), 755-784.
[24]  Hunt J.M., (1996). Petroleum, Geochemistry and Geology 2nd edition. W.H. Freeman Company, New York (744p).
[25]  Bray E.E. and Evans E.D. (1961).Distribution of n-paraffins as a clue to recognition of source beds.Geochim Cosmochim Acta 22: 2-15.
[26]  Leythaeuser D., and Welte D. H. (1969). Relation between distribution of heavy n-paraffins and coalification in carboniferous coals from saar District, Germany.In Advances in Organic Geochemistry 1968(Edited by Schenk P.A. and Havenaar J.),pp 429-442.Pergamon Press, Oxford.
[27]  Meyers P.A., and Snowdon LR (1993). Types and maturity of organic matter accumulated during Early Cretaceous subsidence of the Ex-mouth Plateau, Northwest Australia margin. AAPG Stud Geol 37: 119-130.
[28]  Scalan R.S. and Smith JE (1970).An improved measure of the odd-even predominance in the normal alkanes of sediment extracts and petroleum. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 34: 611-620.
[29]  Hakimi M.H, and Abdullah W.H. (2013). Organic geochemical characteristics and oil generating potential of the Upper Jurassic Safer shale sediments in the Marib-Shabowah Basin, western Yemen. Org Geochem 54:115-124.
[30]  El Diasty and Moldowan, (2013).The western desert versus Nile Delta: a comparatives molecular biomarker study. Marine and Petroleum Geology.v.46, p 319-334.
[31]  Gülbay R.K., Kırmacı M.Z, Korkmaz S. (2012). Organic geochemistry and depositional environment of the Aptian bituminous limestone in the Kale Gümüshane area (NETurkey): an example of lacustrine deposits on the platform carbonate sequence. Org Geochem 49: 6-17.
[32]  Adegoke, A.K., Sarki Yandoka, B.M., Abdullah, W.H., Akaegbobi I.M., (2014). Molecular geochemical evaluation of Late Cretaceous sediments from Chad (Bornu) Basin, NE Nigeria: implication for paleodepositional conditions, source input and thermal maturation. Arab J Geosci 8, 1591-014-1341.
[33]  Powell TG, and McKirdy DM (1973). Relationship between ratio of pristine to phytane, crude oil composition and geological environment in Australia. Nature 243: 37-39.
[34]  Didyk B.M., Simoneit B.R.T, Brassell S.C., Eglinton G. (1978). Organic geochemical indicators of palaeoenvironmental conditions of sedimentation. Nature 272: 216-222.
[35]  Ten Haven HL, de Leeuw JW, Rullkötter J, Sinninghe Damsté JS (1987).Restricted utility of the Pristine /phytane ratio as a palaeoenvironmental indicator. Nature 330:641-643.
[36]  Vu TTA, Zink KG, Mangelsdorf K, Sykes R, Wilkes H, Horsfield B (2009). Changes in bulk properties and molecular compositions within New Zealand Coal Band solvent extracts from early diagenetic to catagenetic maturity levels. Org Geochem 40: 963-977.
[37]  Waples D.W. and Machihara T (1991). Biomarkers for Geologists: a practical guide to the application of steranes and triterpanes in petroleum geology. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Methods in Exploration 9, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
[38]  Obermajer M, Fowler MG, and Snowdon LR (1999). Depositional environment and oil generation in Ordovician source rocks from southwestern Ontario, Canada: organic geochemical and petrological approach. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 83:1426-1453.
[39]  Sinninghe Damsté JS, Kenig F, Koopmans MP, Koster J, Schouten S, Hayes JM, de Leeuw JW (1995). Evidence for gammacerane as an indicator of water column stratification. Geochim CosmochimActa 59:1895-1900.
[40]  Ten Haven HL, de Leeuw JW, Rullkötter J, SinningheDamsté JS, Scheck PA, Palmer SE, Zumberge JE, Fleet AJ, Kelts K, Talbot MR, Fleet AJ, Kelts K, Talbot MR (1988).Application of biological markers in the recognition of palaeo-hypersaline environments. In: Fleet AJ, Kelts K, Talbot MR (eds) Lacustrine Petroleum Source Rocks.
[41]  Tanyileke G.Z., (1994). Geochemistry of the CO2 rich and lake and soda spring along the Cameroun Volcanic line, Cameroun. Ph-D, Okoyama Univ., 155p.
[42]  Eseme, E., Agyingi, C. M., and Foba-Tendo J., (2002). Geochemistry and genesis of brine emanations from Cretaceous strata of the Mamfe Basin, Cameroon. Journal of African Earth Sciences, v.35,p. 467-476.
[43]  Huang W.Y. and Meinschein W.G. (1979). Sterols as ecological indicators. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 43:739-745.
[44]  French K.L., Sepúlveda, J., Trabucho-Alexandre, J., Gröcke, D.R., and Summons, R.E. (2014).Organic geochemistry of the early Toarcian oceanic anoxic event in Hawsker Bottoms, Yorkshire, England. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 390, 116-127.