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No. 59: Sep-Oct 1988

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Going For Gold

The name of T. Gold appears often in Science Frontiers. Currently, he is promoting the theory that many of the earth's hydrocarbon deposits (gas, oil, graphite, etc.) are not of biological origin but are formed rather when primordial methane outgases from the planet's interior. A vanishingly small number of geologists buy Gold's theory. Nevertheless, the Swedish State Power Authority and some private investors have been impressed enough to fund a drilling project at the Siljan Ring, a meteorite crater 150 miles north of Stockholm. There are no significant sources of biogenic hydrocarbons nearby, but oil seeps are not uncommon around the Ring. Mainstream theory cannot account for these seeps, but Gold's theory can: primordial methane streaming up through the cracked granite shield is converted, probably with the help of bacteria, into oil and hydrocarbon sludge. "Ridicuous," say the mainstreamers.

Recently, the drilling program, which has reached the 22,000foot level, brought up 60 kilograms of very smelly black sludge with the consistency of modeling clay. The gunk seems to have a biological origin. In addition to the black sludge, the drillers have been encountering increasing quantities of various hydrocarbon gases as the hole went deeper. All very supportive of Gold's hypothesis.

Establishment geologists are having difficulties explaining these results. They blame contamination by drilling lubricants and/or the surface oil seeps. Gold discounts these explanations. (Anonymous; "Going for Gold," Scientific American, 259:20, August 1988. Also: Begley, Sharon, and Lubenow, Gerald C.; "Gushers at 30,000 Feet," Newsweek, p. 53, June 27, 1988. Cr. C.H. Stiles) Reference. The problem of methane's origin is covered in ESC13 in our catalog: Anomalies in Geology . To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #59, SEP-OCT 1988. 1988-2000 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