Definition of kerogen in English:



mass noun
  • A complex fossilized organic material, found in oil shale and other sedimentary rock, which is insoluble in common organic solvents and yields petroleum products on distillation.

    • ‘Remarkably, when these carbon isotopes are traced back in geologic history, the average carbon isotopic composition of seawater and of most of the kerogen was similar to today.’
    • ‘Retorting is the process of using heat to decompose the kerogen, converting it into a liquid called shale oil.’
    • ‘It should be mentioned that the bulk of reduced carbon on Earth is sediment-bound kerogen, which most probably is of biological origin.’
    • ‘These indices are independent of the organic matter abundance and strongly related to the elemental composition of kerogen.’
    • ‘The bulk of organic matter in sedimentary rocks is in the form of kerogen: complex polymeric material that is insoluble in inorganic solvents, and difficult to analyse chemically.’


Early 20th century: from Greek kēros ‘wax’ + -gen.