Novel side chain methylated and hexacyclic hopanes have been identified in coals and oils from around the world. Extended hopanes (>C32) with an additional methyl in the side chain (“isohopanes”) were identified by comparison with synthetic standards. The major C33–C35 isohopanes are 31-methylbishomohopanes, 32-methyltrishomohopanes and 33-methyltetrakishomohopanes. Extended hopanes methylated at C-29 were not detected. The 17α(H),21β(H)-31-methyltrishomohopanes show four peaks on gas chromatography because of the extra asymmetric carbon at C-31. Like regular hopanes, the isohopanes extend beyond C35. Low concentrations of novel hexacyclic hopanes having 35 or more carbons were also detected in oils and coal extracts. The C35 hexacyclic hopanes were identified as 29-cyclopentylhopanes. Isohopanes are released from the kerogen by hydrous pyrolysis and hydropyrolysis. The 22S/(22S + 22R) ratio for 31-methylbishomohopanes and other isohopanes is around 0.60 at equilibrium in geological samples. They isomerize slightly more slowly than regular C33 hopanes. Isohop-17(21)-enes, 2α-methylisohopanes and two series of rearranged isohopanes were tentatively identified. Isohopanes can be biodegraded to form the corresponding 25-norhopanes. When 25-norhopanes are not formed, the isohopanes are much more resistant to biodegradation than regular hopanes. In biodegraded oil seeps from Greece, 30-norisohopanes were tentatively assigned. The composition and relative abundance of C33 and C34 isohopanes in a worldwide set of coals and crude oils was determined. Isohopanes are abundant in coal and coal-generated oils, where they can account for more than 5% of all extended hopanes, and low in abundance in oils from source rocks deposited under anoxic conditions.
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