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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