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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