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hydrocarbon

1. n. [Geology]
A naturally occurring organic compound comprising hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons can be as simple as methane [CH4], but many are highly complex molecules, and can occur as gases, liquids or solids. The molecules can have the shape of chains, branching chains, rings or other structures. Petroleum is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons. The most common hydrocarbons are natural gas, oil and coal.