Letter | Published:

Fossil Chlorins in a Triassic Sediment

Naturevolume 191pages161162 (1961) | Download Citation



SPECTROSCOPIC evidence for the presence of green chlorophyll-derivatives in ancient sediments and crude oils has been reported by Treibs1 and by Blumer2. We have now succeeded in isolating and characterizing the green pigments responsible for the absorption band at about 640 mµ in the extracts of the porphyrin-rich Triassic oil-shale from Serpiano (Switzerland) (Fig. 1A). The pigments are isolated by first removing from the extracts the asphaltenes by iso-octane precipitation and extracting the ether solution of the pigment-concentrate with 6 N hydrochloric acid. Subsequent partitioning between ether and hydrochloric acid of increasing concentration removes the stronger bases deoxophyllerythroetioporphyrin (DPEP) and meso-etioporphyrin (MEP). The final purification of the green pigment is then accomplished by repetitive chromatography over partially deactivated alumina (Brockman III). The spectrum of the pure pigment (Fig. 1B) is characteristic of the chlorin (dihydroporphin) configuration, and the partial resolution of the band at 490 mµ in addition to the presence of a small band at 612 mµ is indicative of a meso-chlorin, a chlorophyll-derivative in which the vinyl-group in the 2-position has been hydrogenated to an ethyl-group3. The high Chromatographie mobility of this pigment on alumina and on paper (R F = 0.75 on Whatman No. 3 paper, carbon tetrachloride–iso-octane developer, 7 : 3, see ref. 4) eliminates the possibility of the presence of acid-, ester- and other polar groups like —COH, —CO, —OH.

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  1. 1

    Treibs, A., Ann., 517, 172 (1935); Angew. Chem., 49, 682 (1936).

  2. 2

    Blumer, M., Helv., 33, 1627 (1950).

  3. 3

    Stern, A., and Pruckner, F., Z. phys. Chem., A, 180, 321 (1937).

  4. 4

    Blumer, M., Anal. Chem., 28, 1640 (1956).

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  1. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass



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