Diamonds the size of potatoes shoot up at 40 miles per hour from their birthplace 100 miles below Earth’s surface and other strange carbon tales

According to Guinness World Records, "The world's largest cut diamond is an unnamed Fancy Black, containing small red diamond crystals. It weighs 555.55 carats and was polished into 55 facets over several years and completed in June 2004.

From the American Chemical Society the same folks who are looking for science superheroes, carbon tales of the weird.

Tackling mysteries about carbon, possible oil formation and more deep inside Earth

DENVER, Aug. 28, 2011 — How do diamonds the size of potatoes shoot up at 40 miles per hour from their birthplace 100 miles below Earth’s surface? Does a secret realm of life exist inside the Earth? Is there more oil and natural gas than anyone dreams, with oil forming not from the remains of ancient fossilized plants and animals near the surface, but naturally deep, deep down there? Can the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, be transformed into a pure solid mineral?

Those are among the mysteries being tackled in a real-life version of the science fiction classic, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, that was among the topics of a presentation here today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Russell Hemley, Ph.D., said that hundreds of scientists will work together on an international project, called the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO), to probe the chemical element that’s in the news more often than perhaps any other. That’s carbon as in carbon dioxide.

“Concerns about climate change have made millions of people aware of carbon’s role on the surface of the Earth, in the atmosphere and in the oceans,” Hemley said. “The Deep Carbon Observatory will uncover critical information about the movement and fate of carbon hundreds and thousands of miles below Earth’s surface. We call that the deep carbon cycle.”

Hemley said this basic research could have practical implications in the future. Using laboratory equipment that reproduces pressures deep within the Earth, which are thousands to millions of times higher than on the surface, scientists in these labs have discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide into a rock-like material called polymeric carbon dioxide. With further refinements, scientists could enhance its stability closer to the Earth’s surface.

The findings also may lead to new materials for commercial and industrial products. Hemley’s laboratory, for instance, has developed a way to produce “super” diamonds, or high-quality diamonds that are bigger and better than existing ones. Natural diamonds form slowly under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions that exist deep within the Earth, while today’s synthetic diamonds form under similar conditions in the laboratory. Using a process called chemical vapor deposition, Hemley’s research group made diamonds rapidly and at low pressure. The new diamonds have superior qualities, including extreme hardness, improved transparency and better electrical and temperature properties. The diamonds could lead to improved computer chips that run faster and generate less heat than existing silicon chips, Hemley said. They also show promise for use in advanced cutting-tools, more durable and heat-resistant windows for spacecraft and other applications, he noted.

The DCO project will probe the big mystery about the formation of natural diamonds, including their chemical composition and how they shoot up quickly from deep within the Earth. Scientists can’t directly observe that process at present, as there’s no practical way to travel down 100 miles beneath the surface of the planet. Observations are limited to laboratory simulations of this process for now, said Hemley, who is director of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Washington, D.C. His laboratory specializes in the chemistry and physics of materials under extreme conditions. Hemley’s presentation at the ACS meeting, entitled “Chemistry of Planetary Gases, Liquids, and Ices in Extreme Environments,” focused on what happens to planetary material under conditions of extreme pressure and temperature, as well as other insights relevant to Earth.

Another area that the DCO will explore is energy. The extent to which hydrocarbons in the Earth form from inorganic processes deep within the Earth rather than only from the fossilized remains of plants and animals remains an important unanswered question. Exploring the nature of carbon deep within the Earth may provide clues on how and to what extent this abiotic process might contribute to energy reserves, Hemley said.

Finally, DCO research has implications in the search for other life forms on Earth and even outer space. Scientists have already identified microbes at about a mile or so deep within the Earth under high temperatures. They suspect that some forms may exist at even deeper levels.

Past studies suggest that bacteria and other life forms can’t survive beyond several thousand atmospheres of pressure. But new studies by scientists in Hemley’s lab show that some bacteria are capable of surviving pressures of up to 20,000 atmospheres. That supports the theory that life might exist in extreme extraterrestrial environments, Hemley noted.

###

Funding sources for these studies include The Carnegie Institute of Washington, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

ABSTRACT:

Recent experiments are providing unprecedented insight into the chemistry of planetary materials over a broad range of the conditions, from ambient pressures to several multimegabars and cryogenic temperatures to several thousand degrees. Studies of hydrogen, the most abundant element, reveal new phenomena at high P-T conditions where new chemistry emerges. Related but characteristically distinct behavior is observed in heavier simple diatomics and other planetary volatiles. New phases and chemistry of H2O, CH4, and other planetary ices have been discovered, and the high P-T stability fields of CO2, including melting relations of the polymeric forms, have been documented. Studies of carbon-based materials more broadly are addressing outstanding questions such as the abundance of carbon within our planet, the depth and nature of the deep biosphere, and the implications of the deep carbon cycle for energy and the environment.

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101 thoughts on “Diamonds the size of potatoes shoot up at 40 miles per hour from their birthplace 100 miles below Earth’s surface and other strange carbon tales

  1. If the energy in fossil fuels does not come from the Sun, then it must originate in the residual energy of planet formation.
    The real issue is the idea that the Earth’s surface must be rid of all traces of carbon in order to save it. In that thinking, Life is the enemy, and the ultimate goal is to transform the Earth into a pet rock, barren and desolate. Better living though chemistry, automation and artificial intelligence.
    Terminator is born.

  2. “The diamonds could lead to improved computer chips that run faster and generate less heat than existing silicon chips, Hemley said. They also show promise for use in advanced cutting-tools, more durable and heat-resistant windows for spacecraft and other applications, he noted.”

    Seems like interesting potential.

  3. “then it must originate in the residual energy of planet formation.”

    Not necessarily…there are theories that there is a nuclear fission process going on in the earth’s core.

  4. “…from the fossilized remains of plants and animals…”
    I wonder how these remains got there where they are now without being “eaten” when they were at the surface. It is a huge amount. All of, say, human “material” buried at one place would not yield enough fuel to last one day of our current consumption. Also, the process to cover thick layers of remains must be a cold one to avoid oxidation. Ice ages appearing very suddenly come to mind. When CO₂ concentration was very high such that trees stood so close together they hadn’t even the space to fall over and new plants grew on top of them, maybe. Imagine that.

  5. Couple of points:

    I thought that ALL oil deposits contain micro fossils, and so MUST be organic in manufacture. Coal certainly does, I have the impressions of fern leaves to prove it.

    Regards diamonds, a ‘showman’ scientist in the UK made them by leaving an acetylene torch burning against some metal for 8 hours. The resulting diamonds were not very big, but were confirmed as perfect diamonds (some uncontaminated) by spectral and molecular analysis.

    .

  6. About time there is open discussion on “fossil” oil. Lets see some proof. What are the time lines for the break down of what kind of fossils that produce oil? How come these huge quantities of oil are even available now? Never mind what the Russians and other countries are finding miles down in fossil free rock.

  7. Soon we’ll hear about how we evil humans are filling up earth’s core with carbon…and that a super team is volunteering to “Save” us.

  8. Certainly petroleum has been found in crystalline rock but whether that is as a source rock or a store rock is the discussion. It would be very exciting if this energy source were to be formed in the deep earth.

    If it was worries about climate change and the AGW rubbish that routed research into this field then at least one good thing has surfaced from the mishmash.

  9. “They also show promise for use in advanced cutting-tools, more durable and heat-resistant windows for spacecraft and other applications, he noted.”

    This will undoubtedly be of great interest in nations with manufacturing industry and manned spacecraft. Perhaps the DCO will be able to sell them some know-how.

  10. let me guess… they need more funding?

    ————
    Not necessarily…there are theories that there is a nuclear fission process going on in the earth’s core.

    ————

    That would be strange, as AFAIK major fissile elements are litophiles, bonding strongly to oxygen and thus are not likely to sink deep into core.

  11. Ralph says:
    August 29, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Couple of points:

    I thought that ALL oil deposits contain micro fossils, and so MUST be organic in manufacture. Coal certainly does, I have the impressions of fern leaves to prove it.

    ************************************************************************
    Still in dispute, but please see http://www.gasresources.net/ for a very good start in the discussion of where oil comes from. (Lots of reading, but worth it, in my opinion).

    As for coal, even more arguments, but Thomas Gold’s “Deep Hot Biosphere” also has some interesting thoughts on coal production (even if some think he has “borrowed” from the Russian oil story).

    Steve

  12. About abiotic iol theory: If one considers the incredibly immense amount of carbon (dioxide) being exhausted continuously by volcanoes, it is very easy for one’s mind to wonder about the possibility of other abiotic carbon based molecules, such as methane, propane, buthane, crude oil being formed through very high pressures and temperatures.
    The Russians were the first to consider the abiotic theory. I have even read reports of Russian oil wells deep enough for the source to be surely abiotic. These wells never dry up. Also I have read reports saying that depleted oil wells have been found productive again after some years of being considered as dry.
    There is one thing that cannot be disputed: The re is a lot of carbon down there and it is what gives live on the surface of the planet. Burning oil, gas and coal (which is just 3% of all CO2 in the atmosphere is helping greening the planet.
    I just hope that the carbon stored in the ebowels of the planet would last forever.

  13. “Is there more oil and natural gas than anyone dreams, with oil forming not from the remains of ancient fossilized plants and animals near the surface, but naturally deep, deep down there? ”

    But the science is settled! the science is settled! the science is settled! the science is settled!

    Explanation: one of my grandsons’ favourite toys is a parrot with an inbuilt recorder. When you press a button it will record and repeat what you’ve said in a maniacal high pitched voice for a time limit.

    At a family gathering years ago, after maybe a bit too much wine an older female relative of great decorum once shouted, “Get f****d” to the parrot, and it duly screeched its responses to the hilarity of the younger generation and the consternation of the older generation.

  14. Before my retirement, I was involved with diamonds (industrial, not gems). Artificial (“Man Made” is a GE trademark) diamonds have been around for decades, including a low pressure vapor deposition method. They have some industrial uses, but no great advantage (even price) over natural diamonds. There may be something “new” in this study, but claims of “super diamonds” are not. Sounds like “Bad Science” to me.

    Having said that, carbon is an interesting element. When I was in school, it came in three forms – diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon. New forms have been discovered – “bucky-balls” (named after Buckminster Fuller), tubes, etc. That’s elemental carbon. Compounds of carbon range from… well, CO2 to… “us”. It will do no harm to study it further…

    Best,
    Frank

  15. Either there’s life on Io, Titan and other moons or geologic processes make methane. If it’s geology then how hard is it to believe other more complex hydrocarbons are made in geologic processes?

  16. Richard111 says:
    August 29, 2011 at 1:19 am
    “About time there is open discussion on “fossil” oil. Lets see some proof. What are the time lines for the break down of what kind of fossils that produce oil?”

    This paper from 2002 explains the chemistry pretty well, and claims that heavier hydrocarbons are not likely to be made from decaying matter.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/17/10976.full

  17. I’ve often visualised oil as being the superheated remains of carbon bearing rock subducted under the mantel and then almost flowing in a river system under the mantel – trying to go up!!! In effect, oil are inverted lakes into which flows organic liquids from decomposition of carbon containing rocks.

    In effect, you could almost view the topology of the mantel UPSIDE DOWN. Subduction zones would be the mountains, and thin oceanic crusts would be the seas, with oil flowing “down” from the subduction zones to the oil seas where we harvest it. Obviously this is all in the rock, and it’s more a series of pathways through the rock, but basically, it has to flow upward.

    Sounds too fantastic? Well, think about it this way, the volcanoes around the world are all close to subduction zones and they spew forth the lighter rock that appears to have been subducted, so what happens to all the carbon bearing materials? A lot comes out as CO2, but what about all the carbon which is not oxidised?

  18. “I thought that ALL oil deposits contain micro fossils, and so MUST be organic in manufacture. Coal certainly does, I have the impressions of fern leaves to prove it.”

    from the book below, plants contain magnesium based porphyrins, animals contain iron based porphyrins. the porphyrins (microfossils) in oil are not magnesium or iron based, they are largely vanadium, nickel, gold and heavier metal based porphyrins. if these oil porphyrins come from biological matter, then we should expect most of them to be magnesium and iron, but we don’t see any. more likely life came from oil than the other way around. you may have impressions of ferns in coal, but does that prove it? what about fern fossils where half of the fossil is coal and the half of the fossil is rock?

  19. Ralph, one of the theories of coal formation is that abiotic methane and oil seep upward into a swamp, which both removes oxygen from the water and loads the plants (or peat) with hydrocarbons. Burial of the resulting mess then creates very interesting fossilization situations. A variation is that a layer of buried organic matter gets infused with hydrocarbons when a seep hits an impermeable cap layer — the permeable organic layer becomes coal because the hydrocarbons can seep through it, rather than the organic matter being the origin of the hydrocarbons.

  20. Two comments: Abiogenetic gas is a fact – methane from carbonates and H2O isn’t difficult at the pressures and temperatures deep in the earth. Polymerization of the gas to liquid is more of a problem, but, in principle, could at least theoretically occur.

    Diamonds from gas phase, are reasonably easy to produce, and are commercially used in some high-priced cutting tools. Diamond plated edges are SHARP! They also oxidize when they get too hot, so don’t expect to see them for kinetic machining (the kinetic energy in the workpiece is used to melt the chip for easier removal – sparks literally fly).

  21. Ralph says:
    August 29, 2011 at 1:13 am
    Couple of points:

    I thought that ALL oil deposits contain micro fossils, and so MUST be organic in manufacture. Coal certainly does, I have the impressions of fern leaves to prove it.

    ———

    All oil fields contain chemical markers that can be traced to the organic sedimentary source rock.

    ——-
    John Marshall says:
    August 29, 2011 at 1:42 am
    Certainly petroleum has been found in crystalline rock but whether that is as a source rock or a store rock is the discussion. It would be very exciting if this energy source were to be formed in the deep earth.

    ———

    All oil found in non-sedimentary rocks can be shown to have migrated through cracks.

    Carbonate rocks are subducted back into the asthenophere, so carbon is getting into the depths, likely many hundreds of miles down as the subducting slab melts. Thus any such carbon compounds that one claims is abiotic is in fact just recycled biotic carbon.

  22. joshua Corning says:
    August 29, 2011 at 12:36 am
    ““then it must originate in the residual energy of planet formation.”

    Not necessarily…there are theories that there is a nuclear fission process going on in the earth’s core.”

    That’s a fact, not a theory. It’s why petroleum contains a varying amount of Helium – alpha particles are Helium cores.

  23. This topic was covered a decade ago by Thomas Gold’s book “The Deep Hot Biosphere”, which covers oil & coal as deep bacterial byproducts of methane, the de-bunking of “fossil” fuels and the formation of diamonds. It’s an interesting read. Naturally, anything that proves that oil is not reprocessed dinosaurs attracts the ire of the mainstream “scientists”. He’ll eventually be proven correct. This sort of thing is the baby step that mainstream science is taking in this regard. http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Hot-Biosphere-Fossil-Fuels/dp/0387985468/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314623367&sr=8-2

  24. The hydrocarbon fuel by abiogenesis is not going to save you for a number of reasons.
    1. Old oil fields are not magically refilling with oil.
    2. Oil fields depend on the existence of suitable sedimentary rock formations and the number of those is a limiting factor
    3. Not all suitable sedimentary rock formations have oil, contrary to what you would expect if the source was the mantle.
    4. The crust is oxidizing, so CO2 is the favoured form of carbon.
    5. Most of the emissions from volcanoes is CO2 not hydrocarbons.
    6. The reduced form of carbon can appear in the form of graphite or diamond, but of course that is very rare. You won’t be filling you tanks with hydrocarbons that are as expensive as diamonds any time soon.
    7. It is getting harder and harder to find new oil fields.

  25. Someone please explain the magical process by which biotic oil is created. According to Wikipedia it “changes” from one form to another. How is this accomplished? Has the process been replicated in the lab? It seems it should be fairly easy.

  26. I have read the same sort of ‘stuff’ as Alex and Slacko earlier and read Max’s recommended book re Abiotic Oil. I have suggested some time ago a full post on this subject would be very informative.

  27. There is currently no known mechanism/geological force that can move kimberlite material from a depth of 100 mile to 450 miles up through the earth at 40 miles per hour. (The diamond material must move quickly from the high pressure region to the surface to avoid a phase transition to graphite.)

  28. It sure would be nice to have unambiguous answer to oil’s origins. One would think, that considering the importance of “fossil” fuels and the treasure spent extracting it, these questions would have been investigated, with all our might. Yet, we seem to be lackadaisical in the investigation of a phenomenon, of at least equal importance, to space exploration. More so, if one considers that one is dependent on the other. This is a good example, of what happens, when scientist regard a subject, as settled. GK

  29. As a kid I cracked open rocks and found very old creatures inside. Does that mean the rocks were formed from very old creatures and plants?

    It seems more reasonable that the fossil fuels are formed naturally in the earth and there is an endless supply at least for the next billion years or so if we all don’t die off from a lack of carbon.

  30. What Leif said. The running theory on all the diamond pipes in Colorado and Wyoming was a meteorite/comet impact as the trigger.

    As for diamond windows, I would rather have sapphire windows. That pesky clevage plane in diamonds would make me nervous.

  31. Leif is correct – somebody’s conversion factors are all screwed up.

    400 meters/sec are more likely.

    My advisor back in the 60s, Tom McGetchin, did some interesting work on kimberlite eruptions through the Colorado Plateau. Big blocks of sedimentary strata in the Grand Canyon sequence were carried upward by the CO2-driven, mantle-derived kimberlite fluid and today lie scattered about the Four Corners area. Here’s the abstract

    http://thesis.library.caltech.edu/2645/

    If you’d been standing around when a kimberlite breached the land surface, it would have knocked you on your butt 50 miles away.

    “No one knows” what triggers them (comets unlikely). Another could happen at any minute!!

    More research funding is needed. Crisp C-notes will do.

  32. “There is currently no known mechanism/geological force that can move kimberlite material from a depth of 100 mile to 450 miles up through the earth”

    Big meteor hitting Earth

    Now we know why BP was drilling so deep !

    also

    New oil , old oil

    http://itsrainmakingtime.com/2010/chrislandau/

    min 6.00 – 10.30
    min20.40 – 23.45
    min29.15 – 30.10

  33. Yes, crude oil contains vanadium. I was told once that algae uses vanadium as part of its metabolism. If true, then crude oil is from algae.

  34. Alex the skeptic says:
    August 29, 2011 at 3:14 am
    About abiotic iol theory: If one considers the incredibly immense amount of carbon (dioxide) being exhausted continuously by volcanoes, it is very easy for one’s mind to wonder about the possibility of other abiotic carbon based molecules, such as methane, propane, buthane, crude oil being formed through very high pressures and temperatures.

    ——-

    Large hydrocarbons cannot exist at high temps and high pressures. Read up about the :oil window”

    ————
    The Russians were the first to consider the abiotic theory. I have even read reports of Russian oil wells deep enough for the source to be surely abiotic.

    ———–

    False, Every Russian oil field has a biological source rock. If you have a specific field name where it is claimed to be abiotic please note that deposit. “Deep” is a relative term. Continental crust is betweem 25 and 35 KILOMETERS deep.

    ———–

    These wells never dry up. Also I have read reports saying that depleted oil wells have been found productive again after some years of being considered as dry.

    ———-

    Oil deposits NEVER run dry. A typical oil field once depleted leaves as much as 60-70% of oil in place behind. Geological reasons prevent fields from running dry. Oil in a deposit is not a void, oil is found inside the rock matrix much like a sponge. Extracting the oil is a tricky balancing act keeping the flow rate low and the pressure high. Extract oil too fast and you wreck the deposit and leave even more oil behind, which is what happened in Texas.

    Anyone who thinks oil is produced abiotically needs to show a specific field where this has been proven to be the case. Otherwise, you are just speculating.

  35. Gee Willikers says:
    August 29, 2011 at 8:32 am
    All those hydrocarbons on Titan were caused by dead, SUV-driving dinosaurs!

    ————-

    There is no oil on Titan. Oil is a hydrocarbon, but not all hydrocarbons are oil.

  36. DR says:
    August 29, 2011 at 6:37 am
    Someone please explain the magical process by which biotic oil is created. According to Wikipedia it “changes” from one form to another. How is this accomplished? Has the process been replicated in the lab? It seems it should be fairly easy.

    ——-

    Explained in the book Oil 101. Well worth the purchace. There is no magic involved.

  37. JDN says:
    August 29, 2011 at 6:10 am
    This topic was covered a decade ago by Thomas Gold’s book “The Deep Hot Biosphere”, which covers oil & coal as deep bacterial byproducts of methane, the de-bunking of “fossil” fuels and the formation of diamonds. It’s an interesting read. Naturally, anything that proves that oil is not reprocessed dinosaurs attracts the ire of the mainstream “scientists”.
    ———-

    Oil didn’t come from dinosaurs, since many oil deposits predate the dinosaurian era. Oil deposits are marine in origin.

  38. Rabe says:
    August 29, 2011 at 1:06 am
    “…from the fossilized remains of plants and animals…”
    I wonder how these remains got there where they are now without being “eaten” when they were at the surface. It is a huge amount. All of, say, human “material” buried at one place would not yield enough fuel to last one day of our current consumption.

    ——

    This is why oil deposits are from marine sediments. Dead organisms get covered quickly, especially in O2 depleted waters.

  39. This is a great thread!

    Some fractions of hydrocarbons could be primordial, especially methane, or methane could be produced abiotically as WSBriggs notes above. However,…

    Chris says:
    August 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Yes, crude oil contains vanadium. I was told once that algae uses vanadium as part of its metabolism. If true, then crude oil is from algae.

    Vanadium also takes the place of iron in an equivalent to hemoglobin. I’ve thought that oil being a major source of vanadium provided a pretty good piece of evidence for oil being derived from remains of animals. Is there doubt at all that coals, all coals, come from plant remains?

  40. DirkH says:
    August 29, 2011 at 6:01 am

    joshua Corning says:
    August 29, 2011 at 12:36 am
    ““then it must originate in the residual energy of planet formation.”

    Not necessarily…there are theories that there is a nuclear fission process going on in the earth’s core.”

    That’s a fact, not a theory. It’s why petroleum contains a varying amount of Helium – alpha particles are Helium cores.

    Alpha particles may be helium cores, but Alpha decay is not fission. In Wyoming there are gas fields with enormous reserves of helium. I wonder if any of this the helium is primordial, diffused upward from the mantle, or what seems more likely, that it is from alpha decay of uranium? At any rate, considering how easily helium escapes practically any container, is it a wonder that reservoir caps in gas fields keep it contained?

  41. Show me a crude oil that does not contain biomarkers and the bio preferred C12 to C13 ratio and I would consider abiotic oil theory. The abiotists usually counter this by arguing that the abiotic oil had become “contaminated” with microrganisms. How convenient is that? They invoke biology to argue against biology.

    Certainly there is abiotic methane and perhaps some small amount of hydrocarbons made via Fisher-Tropsch chemistry around hydrothermal vents and perhaps elsewhere, but where is the evidence against fossil formation of hydrocarbons? Where is the uncontaminated abiotic oil?

  42. R.Shearer:
    Show me a crude oil that does not contain biomarkers and the bio preferred C12 to C13 ratio and I would consider abiotic oil theory.

    Show me a commercially-exploited oil deposit that doesn’t contain oil percolated through (or covered by) a bunch of biomarker-heavy rocks. There’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy in the ‘biomarker” theories – for pretty much the last 150 years, oil geologists only looked for oil in places that had sedimentary-type rocks on top – at the start, because it was much easier to drill through, but for a long time, it’s because they had figured out the places with those characteristics that most probably held oil, and that it was easy to extract.

    There have been oil deposits in Japan (and other places) with the “wrong” C12/C13 ratios, as well as a number of deep-ocean thermal vents with methane content that doesn’t follow the “correct” ratio.

    The thing to remember is that, overall, we haven’t looked very deep for oil. Our deepest actual exploration rigs have barely scratched the surface. Claiming that abiogenic oil doesn’t exist because we mostly find biogenic oil is like looking at the grass in your yard and deciding that there can’t be anything but grass all the way down to the bedrock.

  43. Chris says:
    August 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

    “Yes, crude oil contains vanadium. I was told once that algae uses vanadium as part of its metabolism. If true, then crude oil is from algae.”

    Logical fallacy: affirming the consequent.

  44. cirby says:
    August 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm
    R.Shearer:

    There have been oil deposits in Japan (and other places) with the “wrong” C12/C13 ratios, as well as a number of deep-ocean thermal vents with methane content that doesn’t follow the “correct” ratio.

    ———

    All Japanese oil field formations are sedimentary, and quite young, geologically speaking. http://www.japex.co.jp/english/business/japan/field.html

    ———–

    The thing to remember is that, overall, we haven’t looked very deep for oil. Our deepest actual exploration rigs have barely scratched the surface. Claiming that abiogenic oil doesn’t exist because we mostly find biogenic oil is like looking at the grass in your yard and deciding that there can’t be anything but grass all the way down to the bedrock.

    ————

    Until an oil field with definative abiotic orgins is found, it is a theory, based on lab experiments, only. Kinda like the AGW computer models which have no basis in reality. For abioitc oil to have any viability there should be oil found in precambrian rocks, which does not happen except for definatively migrated oil from biological sources.

    Show us ONE field that does not have a biological origin.

  45. Chris says:
    August 29, 2011 at 9:53 am
    Yes, crude oil contains vanadium. I was told once that algae uses vanadium as part of its metabolism. If true, then crude oil is from algae.

    ———

    There are lots of metal impurities in oil, and dependant on the field. These include nickel, barium, cadmium, iron, plus many more. Doesn’t mean the oil didn’t come from an organic source. Usually picked up during migration.

  46. R. Shearer says:
    August 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Show me a crude oil that does not contain biomarkers and the bio preferred C12 to C13 ratio and I would consider abiotic oil theory. The abiotists usually counter this by arguing that the abiotic oil had become “contaminated” with microrganisms. How convenient is that? They invoke biology to argue against biology.

    Certainly there is abiotic methane and perhaps some small amount of hydrocarbons made via Fisher-Tropsch chemistry around hydrothermal vents and perhaps elsewhere, but where is the evidence against fossil formation of hydrocarbons? Where is the uncontaminated abiotic oil?
    *************************************************************************************
    As I wrote at 3.03am
    The following reource provides material to answer these questions and many of the others in this thread. This includes details of experimental proof that petroleum products in the ratios in which they are found can be spontaneously generated from CaCO3, FeO and H2O at the temps and pressure found close to the crust/mantle depths.

    http://www.gasresources.net/ a short extract:-

    “A following paper reviews, and refutes, the claims for “evidence”[sic] for a biological origin of petroleum (commonly asserted in typical British and American textbooks on petroleum geology), – e.g., the “biomarkers,” the observation of optical activity, the slight differences in the abundances of linear molecules with odd (or even) numbers of carbon atoms, the presence of porphyrins, etc. The claims for each (as evidence of a biotic connection for petroleum) are refuted, with unchallenged evidence published in first-rank scientific journals often as long as thirty or forty years ago. The continued, egregious claims of such as “evidence” of a biological origin of petroleum are acknowledged to be fraudulent. A recent paper describes very recent analysis of the thermodynamic stability of the hydrogen-carbon system in circumstances most favorable to the evolution of hydrocarbons, and shows that the hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum cannot evolve spontaneously at pressures less than approximately 30 kbar, which pressures correspond to the depths of the mantle of the Earth. In the second instance, this paper describes experimental demonstration of the foregoing theoretical predictions, whereby laboratory-pure solid marble (CaCO3), iron oxide (FeO), wet with triple-distilled water, are subjected to pressures up to 50 kbar and temperatures to 2000 C. With no contribution of either hydrocarbons or biological detritus, the CaCO3-FeO-H2O system spontaneously generates, at the high pressures predicted theoretically, the suite of hydrocarbons characteristic of natural petroleum.”

    Steve

  47. R. Shearer says:
    August 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Show me a crude oil that does not contain biomarkers and the bio preferred C12 to C13 ratio and I would consider abiotic oil theory. The abiotists usually counter this by arguing that the abiotic oil had become “contaminated” with microrganisms. How convenient is that? They invoke biology to argue against biology.

    Certainly there is abiotic methane and perhaps some small amount of hydrocarbons made via Fisher-Tropsch chemistry around hydrothermal vents and perhaps elsewhere, but where is the evidence against fossil formation of hydrocarbons? Where is the uncontaminated abiotic oil?
    *************************************************************************************
    As I wrote at 3.03am
    The following reource provides material to answer these questions and many of the others in this thread. This includes details of experimental proof that petroleum products in the ratios in which they are found can be spontaneously generated from CaCO3, FeO and H2O at the temps and pressure found close to the crust/mantle depths.

    http://www.gasresources.net/ a short extract:-

    “A following paper reviews, and refutes, the claims for “evidence”[sic] for a biological origin of petroleum (commonly asserted in typical British and American textbooks on petroleum geology), – e.g., the “biomarkers,” the observation of optical activity, the slight differences in the abundances of linear molecules with odd (or even) numbers of carbon atoms, the presence of porphyrins, etc. The claims for each (as evidence of a biotic connection for petroleum) are refuted, with unchallenged evidence published in first-rank scientific journals often as long as thirty or forty years ago. The continued, egregious claims of such as “evidence” of a biological origin of petroleum are acknowledged to be fraudulent. A recent paper describes very recent analysis of the thermodynamic stability of the hydrogen-carbon system in circumstances most favorable to the evolution of hydrocarbons, and shows that the hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum cannot evolve spontaneously at pressures less than approximately 30 kbar, which pressures correspond to the depths of the mantle of the Earth. In the second instance, this paper describes experimental demonstration of the foregoing theoretical predictions, whereby laboratory-pure solid marble (CaCO3), iron oxide (FeO), wet with triple-distilled water, are subjected to pressures up to 50 kbar and temperatures to 2000 C. With no contribution of either hydrocarbons or biological detritus, the CaCO3-FeO-H2O system spontaneously generates, at the high pressures predicted theoretically, the suite of hydrocarbons characteristic of natural petroleum.”

    Steve

  48. ” there’s no practical way to travel down 100 miles beneath the surface of the planet. ”

    Either take a trip to Iceland or pcik up that shovel and get to work.

  49. One of the most beneficial and perhaps necessary uses for diamond coatings is for the “First Wall” materials in forthcoming Fusion reactors. For that purpose Diamond would be the ideal liner having a excellent specific heat capacity, teh best heat transfer properties, and resistance to spalling, which contaminates the Plasma with ions.

    It would be an excellent base for liquid walls of lithium as well, with its ablity to be laser drilled to provide the “Pores” to secrete the liquid Lithium. Developing “Divertor” materials is an engineering challenge facing Fusion reactor designers.

  50. Steve T says:
    August 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm
    As I wrote at 3.03am
    The following reource provides material to answer these questions and many of the others in this thread. This includes details of experimental proof that petroleum products in the ratios in which they are found can be spontaneously generated from CaCO3, FeO and H2O at the temps and pressure found close to the crust/mantle depths.

    ————

    Exactly which “petroleum products” are produced in this experiment? You do realize there are THOUSANDS of individual molecular compounds in oil.

    Just because a lab can make it does not mean the mantle is. That would have to be independently confirmed.

    So I ask again, which oil field(s) have been shown to have an abiotic origin? None.

  51. Ed Forbes says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm
    Titan’s Surface Organics Surpass Oil Reserves on Earth
    Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.

    ——–

    Oil is a mixture of thousands of organic hydrocarbons, but not all hydrocarbons are oil. There is no oil on Titan. Methane is a hydrocarbon which can form both from organic sources and inorganic sources. Doesn’t mean oil is abiotic.

  52. http://www.gasresources.net/KitchkaspaperforDCConference.htm

    The ‘best estimate’ of the global crude-oil seepage rate was revised to 600000 mt/a, with a range of 200000 and 2000000 mt/a (Kvenvolden and Cooper, 2003). Simple calculations based upon conservative estimates of the average present rates of hydrocarbon seepages from the sea bed establish that the world’s proven reserves of conventional oil should disappear in less than 1 Ma. This fact fundamentally contradicts the conventional time period required by the bio-organic notion of the origin of petroleum

  53. jrwakefield says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    You do realize there are THOUSANDS of individual molecular compounds in oil.

    I am not sure I understand your point. You stated earlier:

    “There are lots of metal impurities in oil, and dependant on the field. These include nickel, barium, cadmium, iron, plus many more. Doesn’t mean the oil didn’t come from an organic source. Usually picked up during migration.

    If most molecular compounds embed during migration and both biotic and abiotic theorized sources involve extensive migration – What differential should we expect to see? How does biotic better explain “thousands” of chemicals. Just trying to see your position, is all. GK

  54. jrwakefield says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm
    “So I ask again, which oil field(s) have been shown to have an abiotic origin? None.”

    “There are presently more than 80 oil and
    gas fields in the Caspian district alone which were
    explored and developed by applying the perspective of
    the modern theory and which produce from the
    crystalline basement rock.(Krayushkin, Chebanenko et
    al. 1994) Similarly, such exploration in the western
    Siberia cratonic−rift sedimentary basin has developed
    90 petroleum fields of which 80 produce either partly
    or entirely from the crystalline basement”

    http://sci.tech-archive.net/Archive/sci.econ/2004-08/0126.html

  55. I wasn’t aware that the Huygens probe had the ability to drill, and drill deep on Titan, and roam all over the moon to make sure that there was no oil.

    It is purely illogical to claim that there is no oil on Titan.

    That applies to much else where Wakefield has claimed absolute negative knowledge.

  56. I think both camps are partiality right. I do not believe that oil is directly from biological process. It is not “carbon” as we know accept what carbon is (plant or animal mater in a simple carbon form) being covered over and then being trapped in rock. There are far to many biological process that work to defeat that path, carbon is far to biological valuable to allowed it sit in a readily usable form and allow it to go to waste.

    Instead I think the trapped carbon is calcium carbonate or limestone. I personal believe it is what happen as that the limestone slips back into the mantel from a subduction zone. It would be saturated with water and have lots of biological makers in it. The heat and pressure it is then subjected to would make the chemical change so the carbon in the limestone would produce what we know as hydrocarbons. The carbon come from the limestone and the hydrogen from the water.

    I see this process as earth recycling carbon, more precisely calcium carbonate and it has been doing it for a very long time, long before man started pumping that recycled carbon out as oil. This ancient process would allow for the oil to seep back into the sea where it would be consumed by bacteria the consumption of the oil by the bacteria would release some carbon dioxide and the consumption of the bacteria by other animal life would release more carbon dioxide. All this carbon then again rejoin the carbon cycle of life which would lead it to becoming CO2 again. Only to have that CO2 recycled through the food chain of plant and animals only to again bacteria and some types of animals capturing and instead expelling it as CO2 calcifying the carbon and then that calcium carbonate being deposited back to the ocean bottom only subducted back in only to repeat the cycle again.

    This process it only part of the carbon cycle that allow for the carbon deposited on the bottom of the oceans to be recycled, another part of the cycle it to force the limestone out of the oceans and back to the surface there weathering and leaching dissolved the carbon so some of it will end back into the atmosphere where it is need. Life on earth is not possible with out carbon and if such cycles did not exist all the carbon on earth would have been lock up in rock a very long time ago. It also explains why we find it all over the place especially along the continental shelf and long dead seas.

  57. Martin luhnan says
    ———
    hydrocarbons. The carbon come from the limestone and the hydrogen from the water.
    ———
    The stochiometry is wrong. For this to work the oxygen gas to be removed. It’s not so it can’t work.

  58. What would happen to the price of oil if it is proven that it is mostly abiotic? The first thing to fall is peak oil theory, then the price would follow and getting to work would get much cheaper

  59. Pete H says:
    August 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm
    jrwakefield says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm
    “So I ask again, which oil field(s) have been shown to have an abiotic origin? None.”

    “There are presently more than 80 oil and
    gas fields in the Caspian district alone which were
    explored and developed by applying the perspective of
    the modern theory and which produce from the
    crystalline basement rock.(Krayushkin, Chebanenko et
    al. 1994) Similarly, such exploration in the western
    Siberia cratonic−rift sedimentary basin has developed
    90 petroleum fields of which 80 produce either partly
    or entirely from the crystalline basement”

    http://sci.tech-archive.net/Archive/sci.econ/2004-08/0126.html

    ——————-

    Produced from crystalline basement doesn’t mean charged from the basement. I’ve worked on oil fields in Vietanm with granitic reservoirs, however they are all charged from adjacent sedimentary rocks.

  60. It seems that the harder it is to get real data, the more incentive there is to become entrenched in self-assured opinions.

    I can’t imagine that the world’s energy producers aren’t familiar with these alternative ideas — maybe it is just economic strategies that keep their public message focus on “fossil fuels”. Perhaps abiotic resources are harder to reach (or their location harder to guesstimate), but they will become economic in a few decades. /just idly speculating

  61. rwakefield says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    So I ask again, which oil field(s) have been shown to have an abiotic origin? None.

    ======

    It looks to be remarkably difficult to demonstrate that a particular batch of oil is abiotic. Thomas Gold did manage to produce a small amount (less than 1000 bls total) of liquid hydrocarbons from two wells in Scandinavia that were designed to minimize the chances of the “oil” being biotic. There were a lot of problems with the first well which Gold described as a fiasco, but the second one was much better done.

    I personally don’t believe that there are significant amounts of abiotic oil around, because I don’t see how such oil — were it created — would keep from being knocked back down to Methane by heat before it reached a “safe” temperature regime.

    I’m pretty impressed with the Geologists. Unlike Climate “Scientists” many geologists seem willing to discuss unorthodox theories even if they do not believe the theories to be true. I’ve read long threads amongst petroleum geologists about abiotic oil. Even though they are pretty much universally highly skeptical, they are polite, base their discussions on facts, do not simply make stuff up, and do not practice “proof by repeated assertion”.

  62. Steve Schaper

    No, it is purely logical to claim there is no oil on Titan. None has been observed and there’s no proven way in which it could have been generated.

    That’s logic for you…

  63. Alex the skeptic says:
    August 30, 2011 at 2:53 am
    What would happen to the price of oil if it is proven that it is mostly abiotic? The first thing to fall is peak oil theory, then the price would follow and getting to work would get much cheaper

    ——

    No because you do not understand what peak oil is about. It is NOT about how much oil is in the ground, it NEVER has been. Peak oil is about FLOW RATES. Assuming abiotic to be true, it’s rate of oil formation must be very very very slow. No where near fast enough to keep up with our rate of extraction.

  64. Steve Schaper says:
    August 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm
    I wasn’t aware that the Huygens probe had the ability to drill, and drill deep on Titan, and roam all over the moon to make sure that there was no oil.

    It is purely illogical to claim that there is no oil on Titan.

    ————

    Since all earth bound oil has been shown to be biological in deeply buried marine sediments (that is marine environments teaming with life), which has never existed in Titan, one can logically conclude the conditions for oil formation cannot happen on Titan.

    Which hydrocarbon molecules have been identified on Titan? Find that out and you get your answer.

  65. Pete H says:
    August 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    “There are presently more than 80 oil and
    gas fields in the Caspian district alone which were
    explored and developed by applying the perspective of
    the modern theory and which produce from the
    crystalline basement rock.(Krayushkin, Chebanenko et
    al. 1994)
    ———-

    Caspean Sea is the remains of the Tethys Sea, a huge ocean that was closed as India collided with Asia. This means two things. Lots of sedimentary marine sediments, and greatly fractured and thrusted deformed rocks (hence lots of igneous intrusions). Any oil in “crystaline basement” rock migrated there from its marine sedimenary source. The term “crystaline basement” is totally vague and useless term. Specifically what? That term has been used for basaltic oceanic crustal rock less than 200myo all the way to Archean aged granites (exposed roots of former mountains). If you want to see how geologically complex “crystaline basement rock” can be google “metasedimentary belt boundary zone” here in Ontario’s Precambrian shield. Specifically “Proterozoic tectonic evolution of the Grenville orogen in North America” See this for a description http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/gentry/tiny.htm which I did when debunking creationism. “crystaline basement rock” is any formation of igneous or metamophic origin, and has nothing to do with the mantel.

    ———–

    Similarly, such exploration in the western
    Siberia cratonic−rift sedimentary basin has developed
    90 petroleum fields of which 80 produce either partly
    or entirely from the crystalline basement”

    ————

    Notice the cross-section diagram in this: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3050/pdf/fs2011-3050.pdf

    The oil came from marine sedimentary deposits, which has migrated and pooled.

    Sorry, nice try, but still no cigar. No abiotic deposits have been discovered.

  66. G. Karst says:
    August 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    If most molecular compounds embed during migration and both biotic and abiotic theorized sources involve extensive migration – What differential should we expect to see? How does biotic better explain “thousands” of chemicals. Just trying to see your position, is all. GK

    ———-

    Two different things. There are thousands of hydrocarbon molecules in oil, from very short chained (methane, ethane, butane, etc) to molecules with a thousand or more chained carbon atoms (which ends up as bitumen once the rest are removed). So any abiotic mechanism of oil formation would have to be able to make carbon chains many thousand of atoms long. Heat and pressure of the mantel would destroy such long chains into smaller chains.

    Now I expect to see postings speculating on how that can happen. Irrelevant. What counts, and what we demand from the AGW alarmists, is EVIDENCE. No speculations, no guesswork. Show specific evidence of how that happens in the mantel.

    I see abiotic oil in the same light as AGW, speculation based on models or lab experiments, with no physical evidence from the real world.

  67. Alexander says:
    August 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    http://www.gasresources.net/KitchkaspaperforDCConference.htm

    The ‘best estimate’ of the global crude-oil seepage rate was revised to 600000 mt/a, with a range of 200000 and 2000000 mt/a (Kvenvolden and Cooper, 2003). Simple calculations based upon conservative estimates of the average present rates of hydrocarbon seepages from the sea bed establish that the world’s proven reserves of conventional oil should disappear in less than 1 Ma. This fact fundamentally contradicts the conventional time period required by the bio-organic notion of the origin of petroleum

    ———

    Obviously contradicted by the actual oil fields themselves. I highly suggest you read two books on oil formations Twilight in the Desert and Oil 101. Look up the geology of famous oil fields, like Ghawar, Cantarell, Tupi, Hybernia. All shown to be biological, all shown to be hundreds of millions of years of age. Before you post here, please, please, read up on the specific geological settings of oil fields. This research has all been done. Petroleum geologists are not stupid people, they know what they are doing, they know what to look for for potential oil fields. They ALWAYS use biological markers, specific marine species are used as markers (google: biological oil markers eg http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0016703785902108), or marine deposits. There is no oil in the Canadian Shield. However, that said, there are very small graphite deposits, associated with marble (deformed marine limestones), in one case I know of fossil stromatolites.

  68. jrwakefield says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Steve T says:
    August 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm
    As I wrote at 3.03am
    The following reource provides material to answer these questions and many of the others in this thread. This includes details of experimental proof that petroleum products in the ratios in which they are found can be spontaneously generated from CaCO3, FeO and H2O at the temps and pressure found close to the crust/mantle depths.

    ————

    Exactly which “petroleum products” are produced in this experiment? You do realize there are THOUSANDS of individual molecular compounds in oil.

    Just because a lab can make it does not mean the mantle is. That would have to be independently confirmed.

    So I ask again, which oil field(s) have been shown to have an abiotic origin? None.
    ****************************************************************************************

    The petroleum products I referred to are given at the link http://www.gasresources.net/ so it is clear that you have not gone there and read the articles.

    Your second point: The linked articles also describe the experiment that reproduces the temp/pressure calculated for the depth at the mantle and shows that marble, iron oxide and water spontaneously generate the petroleum products found in oil basins. I’m not sure whether this has been done more than once, but it does seem to be generally accepted. You would like it independently confirmed by who/what? It seems likely that the mantle contains calcium carbonate iron oxide and water.

    Last point: As far as I know there is not a single oil field in the world that has been shown to be biotic. There is no scientific explanation for the process of turning biotic material into the higher hydrocarbons and there are suggestions that the second law of thermodynamics will have to be overcome to do so. I am currently supporting the explanation that has experimental proof of a method by which oil could be made in natural (if unusual for us surface dwellers) conditions.

  69. Alex the skeptic says:
    August 30, 2011 at 2:53 am
    What would happen to the price of oil if it is proven that it is mostly abiotic? The first thing to fall is peak oil theory, then the price would follow and getting to work would get much cheaper

    —————

    You might as well speculate on what would happen to the price of cheese should the moon be discovered to be made of it. Lets not let the fact that all the evidence suggests that it isn’t get in the way of things, we should just accept the fact that it could be as they haven’t drilled all the way to the center so the possibility is still there!

  70. To Don K

    “The Gravberg-1 borehole penetrated 7,500 m, through the deepest rock in the Siljan Ring in which proponents had hoped to find hydrocarbon reservoirs. Some eight barrels of magnetite paste and hydrocarbon-bearing sludge were recovered from the well; Gold maintained that the hydrocarbons were chemically different from, and not derived from, those added to the borehole, but analyses showed that the hydrocarbons were derived from the diesel fuel-based drilling fluid used in the drilling. This well also sampled over 13,000 feet (4,000 m) of methane-bearing inclusions. A second borehole, Stenberg-1, was drilled a few miles away, finding similar results”

    No abiotic oil has been found.

  71. Steve T says:
    August 30, 2011 at 6:51 am

    The petroleum products I referred to are given at the link http://www.gasresources.net/ so it is clear that you have not gone there and read the articles.

    ———

    Not yet, but will. They are not “petroleum products”, they are hydrocarbon compounds. Big difference.

    —————

    Your second point: The linked articles also describe the experiment that reproduces the temp/pressure calculated for the depth at the mantle and shows that marble, iron oxide and water spontaneously generate the petroleum products found in oil basins. I’m not sure whether this has been done more than once, but it does seem to be generally accepted. You would like it independently confirmed by who/what? It seems likely that the mantle contains calcium carbonate iron oxide and water.

    ————–

    Sounds like a very specific set of rare conditions. Again, just because the lab can do it, does not mean the mantel is. Now this is curious. “marble” is metamorphosed limestone, most limstone is biological in origin.

    ————–

    Last point: As far as I know there is not a single oil field in the world that has been shown to be biotic. There is no scientific explanation for the process of turning biotic material into the higher hydrocarbons and there are suggestions that the second law of thermodynamics will have to be overcome to do so. I am currently supporting the explanation that has experimental proof of a method by which oil could be made in natural (if unusual for us surface dwellers) conditions.

    ———

    I have already posted that EVERY OIL FIELD has been shown to have a biological source. Specifically the Green River Formation, Bakken (Oil cannot seep into shale, too tight), Tupi (the biological source rock is just below the host rock http://www.imog2007.org/files/Thursday%20Posters/Thursdays%20Posters%20Petroleum%20composition/P382-TH%20Koike.pdf and http://www.iongeo.com/content/documents/pdfs/spans/BrasilSPAN_PreSalt_Study.pdf). Hybernia, Texas fields, North Sea, Ghawar, Cantarell, I can list them all.

    Do yourself a favour, get and read Oil 101.

  72. Tupi oil field’s biological source rocks:

    http://www.geoexpro.com/exploration/monstersofthedeep/

    “Source and Reservoirs
    Above the basement basalts, sandstones, stromatolithes, and coquinas made out of pelecipods deposited in structural highs are important reservoirs and are interbedded with the source rocks. Porosity ranges from 12% to 30% and permeability can be over 500 md. Recent data show the presence of well sorted sandstone reservoirs with very good permeability and porosity in the pre-salt sequence of Santos Basin. Carbonates and sandstones also are important reservoirs in the lower Albian, with permeability ranging from 1 to 2 darcies and intergranular porosity as high as 35%. However, from unofficial sources, stromatolithes are the primary reservoir for all the discoveries in the Santos Basin to date.”

    Coquinas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coquina

    That “basement basalts” is, at that location, the early rifting of the Atlantic starting some 200myo. It’s the same basaltic system which extends to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Thus, that basalt was extruded as undersea molten lava 200myo. As the Atlantic opened, life flourished in the new shallow sea, that life’s deposition on the ocean floor produce, once covered, the oil. The 6,000 ft of salt shows that sea dried up, likely several times, some time after. Just like the Mediterranean did.

  73. Steve T says:

    “Last point: As far as I know there is not a single oil field in the world that has been shown to be biotic.”

    As every discovered oil field has a biogenic signiture I’m afraid it says more about what you know than about the orgin of petroleum.

  74. jrwakefield says:
    August 30, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I see abiotic oil in the same light as AGW, speculation based on models or lab experiments, with no physical evidence from the real world.

    Thanks for your reply, and for your efforts at maintaining a proper skeptical attitude.

    I agree as do you, that there is insufficient evidence to modify current oil, biotic origin theory. However, I am not convinced that the door to abiotic sources has, in any way, been shut and locked (as in the case of CO2 driven AGW propaganda).

    I also agree that P&T parameters during initial migration precludes very long carbon chains. However, is it not possible, that as migration moves into cooler sedimentary rock to its final reservoir, over Ma, that many long chains could be added or reformed? Wouldn’t biotic and abiotic compounds collect in the same reservoirs, forming a homogenized mix?

    I remain skeptical, but am trying to maintain a open mind, to other possibilities, as I have not seen anything definitive yet. GK

  75. G. Karst says:
    August 30, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I also agree that P&T parameters during initial migration precludes very long carbon chains. However, is it not possible, that as migration moves into cooler sedimentary rock to its final reservoir, over Ma, that many long chains could be added or reformed? Wouldn’t biotic and abiotic compounds collect in the same reservoirs, forming a homogenized mix?

    ——

    A mechanism would first have to be proposed how that could happen, then look for evidence of that occuring in rocks.

    ———-

    I remain skeptical, but am trying to maintain a open mind, to other possibilities, as I have not seen anything definitive yet. GK

    ———-

    And that is how science works. I always go with the evidence. The abiotic people have a serious flaw in their proposal. Techonics churns up the crust, exposing once deep rock. So does errosion. Not one location on the planet shows any oil migration as per what the abiotics should exist. Especially precambrian. If there was ever a chance to see this process it would be exposed rock in precambrian shields. For example, that Metasedimentary Belt Boundary Zone (900-1400myo) here in Ontario is exposed mountain roots, once 25-30 kilometers into the crust. Yet, no evidence of any oil, or hydrocarbons for that matter.

  76. Richard Wakefield says:
    August 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

    And that is how science works. I always go with the evidence. The abiotic people have a serious flaw in their proposal. Techonics churns up the crust, exposing once deep rock. So does errosion. Not one location on the planet shows any oil migration as per what the abiotics should exist. Especially precambrian. If there was ever a chance to see this process it would be exposed rock in precambrian shields. For example, that Metasedimentary Belt Boundary Zone (900-1400myo) here in Ontario is exposed mountain roots, once 25-30 kilometers into the crust. Yet, no evidence of any oil, or hydrocarbons for that matter.
    =====

    I’m pretty much on your side, but it should be pointed out that there isn’t a whole lot of Precambrian rock around that hasn’t been thoroughly cooked and probably isn’t pretty much impervious to migrating hydrocarbons. Many of our Greenville rocks in the NorthEast — including yours in Ontario were probably covered at one time by Paleozoic sediments but no oil leaked into the older rocks — presumably because the limestones are now marble and the clastics are now slate — neither of which is usually very permeable. IIRC some hydrocarbons have been found in very old rocks in Australia. There’s no reason to think that the oil isn’t biotic however. Algae have been around a long time.

  77. SteveE says:
    August 30, 2011 at 7:15 am

    To Don K

    “The Gravberg-1 borehole penetrated 7,500 m, through the deepest rock in the Siljan Ring in which proponents had hoped to find hydrocarbon reservoirs. Some eight barrels of magnetite paste and hydrocarbon-bearing sludge were recovered from the well; Gold maintained that the hydrocarbons were chemically different from, and not derived from, those added to the borehole, but analyses showed that the hydrocarbons were derived from the diesel fuel-based drilling fluid used in the drilling. This well also sampled over 13,000 feet (4,000 m) of methane-bearing inclusions. A second borehole, Stenberg-1, was drilled a few miles away, finding similar results”

    =====

    I don’t think that’s an entirely accurate description. FWIW, it doesn’t match either Gold’s papers http://origeminorganicadopetroleo.blogspot.com/2011/01/thomas-gold-professional-papers.html or Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gold#Drilling_in_Siljan Which don’t match each other all that well. My point is that Gold did find small quantities of liquid hydrocarbons in a location where it is somewht difficult to explain its presence.

    Although Gravberg did use some diesel in the drilling fluids, the Stenberg well used only water-based drilling fluids so it’s unlikely that the “oil” from that well was imported during the drilling process.

    I actually don’t think there is any significant amount of abiotic oil around. Abiotic Methane? More plausible perhaps, but really, I haven’t a clue and I don’t think anybody else knows either. However those are opinions, not facts.

  78. jrwakefield says:

    August 30, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Alex the skeptic says:
    August 30, 2011 at 2:53 am
    What would happen to the price of oil if it is proven that it is mostly abiotic? The first thing to fall is peak oil theory, then the price would follow and getting to work would get much cheaper

    ——

    No because you do not understand what peak oil is about. It is NOT about how much oil is in the ground, it NEVER has been. Peak oil is about FLOW RATES. Assuming abiotic to be true, it’s rate of oil formation must be very very very slow. No where near fast enough to keep up with our rate of extraction.
    ******************************************
    jrwakefield,
    Having discovered my own ignorance on peak oil, I would greatly appreciate telling on what science are you basing your claim that “it’s rate of oil formation must be very vert very slow.”

    Do you have a flow meter buried somewhere deep in the earth?

  79. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091104123032.htm

    Abiotic Synthesis Of Methane: New Evidence Supports 19th-Century Idea On Formation Of Oil And Gas
    ScienceDaily (Nov. 6, 2009) — Scientists in Washington, D.C. are reporting laboratory evidence supporting the possibility that some of Earth’s oil and natural gas may have formed in a way much different than the traditional process described in science textbooks.

    Their study is scheduled for Nov./Dec. issue of ACS’ Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly publication. Anurag Sharma and colleagues note that the traditional process involves biology: Prehistoric plants died and changed into oil and gas while sandwiched between layers of rock in the hot, high-pressure environment deep below Earth’s surface. Some scientists, however, believe that oil and gas originated in other ways, including chemical reactions between carbon dioxide and hydrogen below Earth’ surface.

    The new study describes a test of that idea, which dates to at least 1877 and famous Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeelev. They combined ingredients for this so-called abiotic synthesis of methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, in a diamond-anvil cell and monitored in-situ the progress of the reaction. The diamond anvils can generate high pressures and temperatures similar to those that occur deep below Earth’s surface and allow for in-situ optical spectroscopy at the extreme environments.

    The results “strongly suggest” that some methane could form strictly from chemical reactions in a variety of chemical environments. This study further highlights the role of reaction pathways and fluid immiscibility in the extent of hydrocarbon formation at extreme conditions simulating deep subsurface.
    …………………………
    So abiotic oil theory is also supported by chemistry.

  80. Alex the skeptic says:
    August 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    jrwakefield,
    Having discovered my own ignorance on peak oil, I would greatly appreciate telling on what science are you basing your claim that “it’s rate of oil formation must be very vert very slow.”

    Do you have a flow meter buried somewhere deep in the earth?

    ———

    Do the abiotics? No but they sure give the impression that it would flow fast enough. A simple calculation could put us into the ball park, take known oil in the ground and divide by the number of years the abiotic process is assumed to have run. Except they never tell us that.

    The bottom line is existing fields, once depleted don’t refill. Not one field has. So either abiotic is wrong, or the infill rate is too slow to measure.

  81. Alex the skeptic says:
    August 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Their study is scheduled for Nov./Dec. issue of ACS’ Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly publication. Anurag Sharma and colleagues note that the traditional process involves biology: Prehistoric plants died and changed into oil and gas while sandwiched between layers of rock in the hot, high-pressure environment deep below Earth’s surface.

    ————

    Oil doesn’t come from plants, it comes from marine animals. Coal comes from terrestrial plants.

  82. Alex the skeptic says:
    August 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm
    So abiotic oil theory is also supported by chemistry.

    ———–

    That passage says no such thing. It’s the same rehashing over and over. It’s been done in the lab hence it MUST happen in the mantle. Sorry, that’s not how science works.

    There is a premise in all of science that one must follow. When more than one mechanism is proposed to explain an event, the one accepted is the most parsimonious. That is, nature tends to take the easiest and simplest path. Thus with all the evidence of all known fields, which is the most parsimonious? That some lab experiment suggest some chemical reaction MIGHT be happening, against much of known oil properties can survive, or that every oil field has a biological marker and source rocks?

    Until someone provides prima facia evidence of abiotic oil, the current mechanism accepted for oil formation MUST be the one that is accepted. Especially since oil fields are predicted and found based on the current mechanism.

    So I have shown specific geology of the Tupi field which shows a very high degree of certainty that the oil formed from a biological source. Yes or no. Or do you believe in co-incidences, with every oil field? Please explain why that is the case.

    Just because a dill core finds hydrocarbons, but yet to find the source rock, does not mean that oil is abiotic.

  83. why is helium detected in high quantities near oil fields?
    anyone care to think about the reasons for that?

    what does the gulf oil disaster say about the “oil window” said to be 15,000 feet, according to Stubborn’s Peak. Would BP be building rigs to drill 30,000 feet on a hunch?

  84. max says:
    August 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm
    why is helium detected in high quantities near oil fields?
    anyone care to think about the reasons for that?

    ———

    Radioactive decay.

    ———–

    what does the gulf oil disaster say about the “oil window” said to be 15,000 feet, according to Stubborn’s Peak. Would BP be building rigs to drill 30,000 feet on a hunch?

    ———

    The oil window is about temperature and pressure, not just depth. http://www.oilandgasgeology.com/oil_gas_window.jpg

  85. So then is this the same field as Lindsey Williams called “Gull Island” ?
    It would certainly seem to be using the same giant Rig he talked about.
    Why then are BP being so modest about the size claimed for the reservoir ?
    The estimated recoverable reserves of the oilfield are approximately 100
    million barrels of oil and 78 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

    British Petroleum’s (BP) Liberty offshore oilfield is located four miles
    off the northern coast of Alaska in Foggy Island Bay in the Beaufort Sea.
    BP plans to develop the oilfield from its existing facilities in the Endicott
    field in Prudhoe Bay. Production from the oilfield will be carried out using
    the world’s first ultra extended reach drilling (u-ERD) technology.
    Production due to start in 2013.

    Read More: http://www.offshore-technology.com/projects/liberty-project/

  86. Good grief! This subject just keeps coming back.

    A previous post stated correctly :”Produced from crystalline basement doesn’t mean charged from the basement. I’ve worked on oil fields in Vietanm with granitic reservoirs, however they are all charged from adjacent sedimentary rocks.”

    Indeed, I have Russian seismic lines in front of me demonstrating that. Incidentally, the oil is not from a marine source, it is from laccustrian algae, botriococcus.

    I guess all of you quoting old Russian papers have not been to an international conference lately.–All the Russians I talk to are up to date on their geochemistry, and look for oil by finding a biotic source, and following the oil to a producible trap, just like the rest of us in the profession.

  87. I read “The Deep Hot Biosphere ” a couple of weeks ago. Seems to me Gold was quite fair in his speculation, called it when it was and suggested experiments to decide various unknowns. He did point out various problems with the biotic oil theory which seem to be explained by a lot of hand waving.
    There is also the problem of all the methane, ethane etc on Titan and tarry substances on comets and carbonaceous chondrites. Seems like there’s lots of hydrocarbons in the solar system which is where all the carbon on Earth came from in the first place.
    Gold doesn’t dismiss the biology associated with oil as he thought it modified the abiotic hydrocarbons.
    I’m leaving this one open. There’s lots of research to do here and the biotic oil folks seem a little too sure of themselves.

  88. Axel says:
    August 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm
    So then is this the same field as Lindsey Williams called “Gull Island” ?
    It would certainly seem to be using the same giant Rig he talked about.
    Why then are BP being so modest about the size claimed for the reservoir ?
    The estimated recoverable reserves of the oilfield are approximately 100
    million barrels of oil and 78 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

    ———–

    You consider that large? The US consumes 7 BILLION barrels a year. 20 MILLION barrels per day. Thus that deposit would last less than a week of US consumption. That makes it puny.

  89. Mike Borgelt says:
    August 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm
    I read “The Deep Hot Biosphere ” a couple of weeks ago.

    Ok, now read Gerard Demaison “Petroleum Geochemistry and Basin Evaluation (Aapg Memoir)”

    It is a bit old, but easy reading, has the basics, and is available for $6.97. Good to balance some real science with Gold’s popularized speculation.

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