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No. 47: Sep-Oct 1986

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Oil & gas from the earth's core

In central Sweden this summer, drillers will be boring into the rocks of the Siljan Ring, Europe's largest known meteor crater. Oil and gas should not be down there in any quantities according to current theory, but that's what they are drilling for. Isn't it futile to fight such a well-established dogma that oil and gas have biological origins and therefore must be looked for only where life once thrived?

Not any longer! Enough anomalies have accumulated to seriously challenge the idea that oil and gas are byproducts of ancient animal life. Here are a few of these anomalies:

  1. The geographical distribution of oil seems derived from features much larger in scale than individual sedimentary features.
  2. The quantities of oil and gas available are hundreds of times those estimated on the basis of biological origins.
  3. The so-called "molecular fossils" found in oil and claimed as proof of a biogenic origin are simply biological contaminants, particularly bacteria that feed upon the petroleum.
  4. Petroleum is largely saturated with hydrogen, whereas buried biological matter should exhibit a deficiency of hydrogen.
  5. Oil and gas are often rich in helium, an inert gas which biological pro cesses cannot concentrate.
  6. The great oil reservoirs of the Middle East are in diverse geological provinces. There is no unifying feature for the region as a whole and, especially, no sediments rich in biological debris that could have produced these immense concentrations of oil and gas.

If oil and gas do not come from decaying organic matter, where do they originate? Some scientists, such as T. Gold, say "from the earth's core." As the earth accreted long ago, it collected abundant carbonaceous material from carbonaceous chondrites and comets containing organic sludge. Under the heat and pressure available at great depths, oil and gas were produced abiogenically in immense quantities and driven outwards to where they were trapped in rock reservoirs.

In central Sweden, oil and gas of biogenic origin are highly improbable. If they are found trapped beneath the Siljan Ring, a major tenet of geological thought may have to be revised.

(Gold, Tom; "Oil from the Centre of the Earth," New Scientist, p. 42, June 26, 1986.)

Reference. Questions about the origin of petroleum are raised in ESC13 in the catalog: Anomalies in Geology. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #47, SEP-OCT 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987