Among the more prevalent chiral monoterpenoid compounds in conifers are α-pinene, β-pinene, and smaller amounts of camphene and limonene. The most prevalent chiral monoterpenoid compounds in fossilized resin (referred to as amber in this paper) appear to be borneol, isoborneol, and camphene. Most of these compounds have easily measured enantiomeric excesses. The borneol and isoborneol in some amber samples have pronounced enantiomeric excesses despite the fact that they are tens of millions of years old. The enantiomeric ratios of the monoterpenoids in different ambers vary tremendously and often are distinct. However, in any single amber sample, the stereochemistry (absolute configuration) of the excess monoterpenoid enantiomers appears to be identical. The camphene in amber may be a secondary reaction product formed over time, possibly from the dehydration of borneol. Although a compound's original stereochemistry can be preserved, it also may diminish with the number and type of chemical transformations over geological time. The monoterpene enantiomeric ratios in modem conifer resins vary tremendously. Future stereochemical studies are outlined that could provide the data necessary for more exact geochemical interpretations and possibly for obtaining pertinent paleobiological information.



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α-pinene; β- pinene; borneol; camphene; geochemistry; isoborneol; limonene; pine resins; stereochem istry; succinite

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Article - Conference proceedings

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Publication Date

01 Jan 1996

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