The mineral is known only from the Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation. It has been known from the Uinta Basin in Utah since its discovery and from the Piceance Basin in Colorado since 1985. Abelsonite occurs in association with albite, analcime, dolomite, mica, orthoclase, pyrite, and quartz. s.
All the samples were found in or nearthe Mahogany Zone, probably in the lower part. The Mahogany Zone is the subsurface equivalent of the kerogen-rich Mahogany Ledge in the Parachute Creek member of the Green River Formation. Pink platy abelsonite was found in one sample. Abelsonite is a secondary mineral that formed in fractures, vugs, and bedding planes of oil shale.
The mineral probably formed from diagenesis of chlorophyll, likely chlorophyll a, which was transported as an aqueous solution into a favorable geologic setting. In 2003, abelsonite was fully synthesized for the first time.