enough (13:14:07) :
The case for abiotic Hydrocarbons has been around
for some time. The most recent developments was the
confirmation on abiotoc methane from deep ocean ridge
vents. Its manufacture has also be demonstrated in
the lab. Do not have references handy but a Google
search will provide lots of info. One thing is certain,
a significant percentage of methane in the atmosphere
is abiotic. One issue the AGW religion does not like
bill (13:31:27) :
CO2 is safe! (in the right quantity) Wiki entry
Lake Nyos is a crater lake in the Northwest Province
of Cameroon, located about 200 miles (322 km) northwest
of Yaoundé. Nyos is a deep lake high on
the flank of an inactive volcano in the Oku volcanic
plain along the Cameroon line of volcanic activity.
A natural dam of volcanic rock hems in the lake waters.
A pocket of magma lies beneath the lake and leaks
carbon dioxide (CO2) into the water, changing it into
carbonic acid. Nyos is one of only three known lakes
to be saturated with carbon dioxide in this way[citation
needed], the others being Lake Monoun, at a distance
of 100 km SSE, and Lake Kivu in Rwanda. On August
21, 1986, possibly triggered by a landslide, the lake
suddenly emitted a large cloud of CO2, which suffocated
1,700 people and 3,500 livestock in nearby villages.
Though not completely unprecedented, it was the first
known large-scale asphyxiation caused by a natural
event. To prevent a repetition, a degassing tube that
syphons water from the bottom layers of water to the
top allowing the carbon dioxide to leak in safe quantities
was installed in 2001, though additional tubes are
needed to make the lake safe.
Tom in South Jersey (13:32:38) :
Coincidentally, WHYY, a PBS in Philly, had a fascinating
program on the life and works of Thomas Gold this
afternoon. He was a supporter of the abiotic source
of oil and gas. Part of his reasoning had to do with
the finding of methane and other hydrocarbons in outerspace
where it was unlikely that plant and dinosaurs had
Gary Pearse (13:32:53) :
Perhaps (only slightly?) related to the topic: an
article in Friday’s “Science” (link
below to news article) in which bacteria from under
antarctic glacier ice that came from a trapped salt
lake (former arm of the sea) that was cut off by uplift
and over-ridden by the glacial ice. The bacteria are
believed to be millions of years old and to be subsisting
on iron sulphides (There are modern sulphide-eating
bacteria that are used to dissolve iron pyrites in
uranium ore thereby generating sulphuric acid that
in turn dissolves uranium minerals which can be recovered
by production wells). Perhaps these beasties are relatives
to the toxic sludge eaters described in the post above.
Two things perhaps of interest: 1) the water is 4
times the saline content of seawater suggesting that
a period of likely high evaporation (hot climate?)
existed before the development of the ice cap. 2)
possibly carbon dioxide trapped in the water or sediments
may give an idea of ancient atmospheric composition.
Any biologists/oceanographers out there to comment?
I have to say I’m sometimes amazed at what
researcher’s don’t investigate or
remark on when coming across such a find.
Wilson Flood (13:33:49) :
Formation of coal from plants is well established.
The bulk of the plants provides the mass of coal.
But the theory of oil formation does not involve dinosaurs.
The story is that tiny sea creatures are buried. Their
shells turn into chalk and the bodies become oil.
That is the story and for a quiet life we believe
it and teach it. But, you would need unimaginable
amounts of these tiny crustaceans. There is an awful
lot of oil in an oilfield. And what happens to all
the chalky bodies. Are they there to accompany the
oil? The primeval sea would have to resemble thick
pea soup. And they all get buried before they can
oxidise. Hmmm. One does not have to be a raving lunatic
to be sceptical about this story.
The abiotic synthesis is at least tempting. At very
high temperatures and pressures most problems thrown
up by the 2nd law of thermodynamics (free energy being
negative, reaction feasibility etc) can be overcome
if the conditions are right. Can the reaction be reproduced
in a lab? The claim is that it can (see the ref).
If that is the case then perhaps somebody should do
some research. However we still may not have any more
oil but it does throw up the possibility of an oil
generator. How many oil fields have actually been
pumped dry? Genuine enquiry - I don’t know the
answer. As to the 250 toxins, they will most likely
be the product of incomplete combustion but a list
would have been nice.
jack mosevich (13:36:28) :
The physicist Gold also believed in the abiotic origins
of petroleum. The environmentalists do not like this
theory since it reduces the chance of peak oil. From
Wiki:”Hydrocarbons are not biology reworked
by geology (as the traditional view would hold) but
rather geology reworked by biology.” –
Gold achieved fame for his 1992 paper “The Deep
Hot Biosphere” in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, which presented a controversial
view of the origin of coal, oil, and gas deposits,
a theory of an abiogenic petroleum origin. The theory
suggests coal and crude oil deposits have their origins
in natural gas flows which feed bacteria living at
extreme depths under the surface of the Earth; in
other words, oil and coal are produced through tectonic
forces, rather than from the decomposition of fossils.
At the beginning of his 1992 paper Gold also referred
to ocean vents that pump bacteria from the depth of
the earth towards the ocean floor in support of his
views. A number of new such hydrothermal vents have
since been discovered, as recently as 2007.
Gold also published a book of the same title in 1999,
which expanded on the arguments in his 1992 paper
and included speculations on the origin of life.
He has been accused of stealing the abiogenic theory
outright from Soviet geologists who first published
it in the 1950s.  Although he later credited Soviet
research, it is claimed that he first published a
paper on the abiogenic theory in 1979 without citing
any of the Soviet literature on the subject. Gold’s
defenders maintain that these charges
are unfounded: they say that, after first formulating
his views on petroleum in 1979, he began finding the
papers by Soviet geologists and had them translated.
He was both disappointed (that his ideas were not
original) and delighted (because such independent
formulation of these ideas added weight to the hypothesis).
They insist that he always credited the Soviet work
once he knew about it.
According to Gold and the Soviet geologists who originated
the abiogenic theory, bacteria feeding on the oil
accounts for the presence of biological debris in
hydrocarbon fuels, obviating the need to resort to
a biogenic theory for the origin of the latter. The
flows of underground hydrocarbons may also explain
oddities in the concentration of other mineral deposits.
Most western geologists and petrologists consider
petroleum abiogenic theories implausible[citation
needed] and believe the biogenic theory of ‘fossil
fuel’ formation adequately explains all observed
hydrocarbon deposits. Most geologists do recognize
the geologic carbon cycle includes subducted carbon,
which returns to the surface, with studies showing
the carbon does rise in various ways. Gold and geology
experts point out the biogenic theories do not explain
phenomena such as helium in oil fields and oil fields
associated with deep geologic features.
However, recent discoveries have shown that bacteria
live at depths far greater than previously believed.
Though this does not prove Gold’s theory, it
may lend support to its arguments. A thermal depolymerization
process which converts animal waste to carbon fuels
does show some processes can be done without bacterial
action, but does not explain details of natural oil
deposits such as magnetite production.
An article on abiogenic hydrocarbon production in
the February 2008 issue of Science Magazine reported
how the abiotic synthesis of hydrocarbons in nature
may occur in the presence of ultramafic rocks, water,
and moderate amounts of heat.
joe (13:40:15) :
I work in the oil industry and even though I’m
not a geologist or geochemist, the organic theory
when applied to prospecting for oil is generally successful
in finding hydrocarbons when combined with 3d seismic.
the basic rule is you need some formation with Kerogen
or organic materials that are decomposing, then you
need a migration path from there to a reservoir that
is sealed by another formation that makes a trap.
So when you’re looking for oil in an area and
you find one reservoir you can use that same generation/migration/trap
theory to look for other places to drill and that
method seems to work.
to me if a model works and explains what is seen
physically then it probably could be true. (just the
opposite of what AGW models say). the inorganic generation
method from what I’ve heard hasn’t found
any oil. I remember in the ’90s a well in norway
was drilled and they did find some gas, but not in
John M (13:42:32) :
I’ve heard of abiogenic theories before, but
I have to be suspicious when claimants have to resort
to accusations of fraud and refer to “evidence
(sic)”. I think that it’s a reasonable
hypothesis that there might be abiotic methane deep
underground from the Earth’s formation, but
people have looked, and so far, no luck.
A couple of things that immediately give blips on
the radar screen:
“The other ingredients such as iron would be
present in the earth’s mantle overlaying the
wet limestone but the H2O may also be present as elemental
hydrogen and oxygen along with the iron.”
That one’s sort of like “and then a miracle
The second item inolves the thermodynamic argument
about higher hydrocarbons. I may wrong, but I thought
the higher hydrocarbons were formed, in part, from
the higher molecules that flora and fauna generate
related to fatty acids and oil. Microalgae, for example,
synthesize C20 and C22 chains, which is why they can
be sources of biodiesel.
Perhaps this is addressed in all the linked articles,
but given the vaguely wrtiten summaries, I don’t
have a great deal of desire to spend the whole afternoon
slogging through them all. For now, I would heed Steve
Mc’s words of caution: “Your arguments
are only as strong as your weakest point”.
WakeUpMaggy (13:43:36) :
This was linked on a NZ website some time ago. I
thought it was interesting.
Petroleum engineers I asked figured it was bunk, but
“The high-pressure genesis of petroleum hydrocarbons
has been demonstrated using only the solid reagents
solid iron oxide, FeO, and marble, CaCO3, 99.9% pure,
wet with triple-distilled water.” http://www.gasresources.net/AlkaneGenesis.htm
Neither was this subject completely ignored at the
International Geologic Conference in Oslo.
urederra (13:53:38) :
Retired Engineer (13:07:18) :
What about coal? I thought we were sure it came
from squashed plants. Or the papers at the bottom
of the pile on my desk.
I recommend to read about the carboniferous period.
You can start with wiki:
I quote an interesting paragraph:
The large coal deposits of the Carboniferous primarily
owe their existence to two factors. The first of these
is the appearance of bark-bearing trees (and in particular
the evolution of the bark fiber lignin). The second
is the lower sea levels that occurred during the Carboniferous
as compared to the Devonian period. This allowed for
the development of extensive lowland swamps and forests
in North America and Europe. Some hypothesize that
large quantities of wood were buried during this period
because animals and decomposing bacteria had not yet
evolved that could effectively digest the new lignin.
Those early plants made extensive use of lignin. They
had bark to wood ratios of 8 to 1, and even as high
as 20 to 1. This compares to modern values less than
1 to 4. This bark, which must have been used as support
as well as protection, probably had 38% to 58% lignin.
Lignin is insoluble, too large to pass through cell
walls, too heterogeneous for specific enzymes, and
toxic, so that few organisms other than Basidiomycetes
fungi can degrade it.
What is also interesting is that during the early
carboniferous the CO2 levels were around 1500 ppm
but by the middle carboniferous levels had declined
to 350 ppm. So, it can be said that the ‘discovery’
of lignin, which could not be degraded by microorganisms,
lead to the trapping of carbon in form of Coal, and
the decline of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
B Kerr (13:54:22) :
The article about Freeman Dyson which was published
here a few weeks ago had a link to “HERETICAL
THOUGHTS ABOUT SCIENCE AND SOCIETY [8.8.07]
By Freeman Dyson” http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07/dysonf07_index.html
Dyson talks of his friend Tommy Gold
“He was famous as a heretic, promoting unpopular
ideas that usually turned out to be right.”
“Later in his life, Tommy Gold promoted another
heretical idea, that the oil and natural gas in the
ground come up from deep in the mantle of the earth
and have nothing to do with biology.”
When I first read this sentence I thought no no no
no. However the rest of the paragraph gave me cause
“Just a few weeks before he died, some chemists
at the Carnegie Institution in Washington did a beautiful
experiment in a diamond anvil cell, [Scott et al.,
2004]. They mixed together tiny quantities of three
things that we know exist in the mantle of the earth,
and observed them at the pressure and temperature
appropriate to the mantle about two hundred kilometers
down. The three things were calcium carbonate which
is sedimentary rock, iron oxide which is a component
of igneous rock, and water. These three things are
certainly present when a slab of subducted ocean floor
descends from a deep ocean trench into the mantle.
The experiment showed that they react quickly to produce
lots of methane, which is natural gas.”
Carsten Arnholm, Norway (13:55:43) :
kim (12:56:34) :
I submit that it is more likely that petroleum and
natural gas hydrocarbons are formed by the same sort
of processes which form coal, which is full of fossils.
I don’t suppose that abiogenic oil is impossible,
Well, it is a known reality. On Saturn’s biggest
moon Titan, there are methane lakes.
Leonard Ornstein (13:59:01) :
Robert’s interesting theory has no relevance
to the peak oil problem. Burning oil and gas at near
present rates guarantees their exhaustion within a
century or two. Even if they are formed abiogenically,
as Robert describes, the process takes millions of
years. So peak oil and peak gas are ’short term’
problems which must be faced independently of whether
production is biogenic or abiogenic!
Gary Pearse (14:04:12) :
Gold spoiled his theory when he included coal as
abiogenic. Tree ferns and other fossils abound in
some coal deposits and certainly lignite is a bog
material that hasn’t had enough heat and pressure
to carbonize it. Now if he had chosen the track that
oil was formed from the coal he may have had something
there. The South Africans have been doing this commercially
for half a century (Sasol its called).
Xavier Itzmann (14:07:34) :
«So when you’re looking for oil in an
area and you find one reservoir you can use that same
generation/migration/trap theory to look for other
places to drill and that method seems to work»
I concur. The current biogenic theory has found us
a whole lot of oil. The onus is on the abiogenic guys
to demonstrate how come.
Still, I am reminded of the bacterial origin of ulcers.
For decades it was thought antacids reduced its likelihood
and bacteria had nothing to do with it: it took a
lone doctor from Australia to show otherwise. And
still, antacids were effective but not for the reasons
the establishment thought, but because the antacids
created an unfavorable environment for the bacteria.
tarpon (14:10:09) :
There are now known planets and planetary bodies
with hydro-carbons on them. Specially methanes. And
no known form of carbon based life forms. The recent
discovery of methane on Mars adds to the mystery.
Sort of blows up the dino-oil only theory.
CH4 is the basis for many refining processes. Methane
can be converted to liquid hydrocarbons. The typical
refining process uses temperature and pressure. So
why isn’t it quite likely that hydro-carbons
form naturally within the earth. The latest renewable
And for those that may not know, one of the easiest
ways to make liquid transport fuel is with the same
process used by Germany during WWII — The refining
process called Fisher-Tropsch conversion, coal to
liquids. Several plants to do just that are being
built around the world right now.
And do coal veins really make sense, when life has
been around everywhere on planet earth for a long
time. You would think that coal would be dispersed
all over the surface of the earth, and not just in
Alberto (14:15:51) :
Is the same. It is renewable. We must not forget
the hydrates of methane and carbon dioxide in the
deep ocean, they accelerate the formation of oil
Britannic no-see-um (14:19:32) :
I’m a petroleum geologist. All of the petroleum
provinces I have ever worked are sourced by relatively
obvious and in most cases uncontroversial geochemically
fingerprint identified source rocks which are, for
oil, usually dark predominantly algal kerogen organic
marine shales, through mixed kerogen and coals for
gas prone sources. The API gravity (heavy to medium
to light crude oil through condensates ultimately
to dry gas) is proportionate to source kitchen burial
depth (of the shale source rock) and consequent thermal
maturity (temperature gradient rises at approx 1 to
2 deg F/100ft burial but can vary widely. There is
a huge literature on source rocks, source to reservoir
fingerprinting, migration history etc for most basins,
so it is a very robust established and validated identification
of the source of conventional petroleum as we find
I recall something about a superdeep well the Russians
were drilling decades ago to test their inorganic
theory but it was painfully slow prgress with the
well- years. Maybe they’re still at it.
All I can say is that perhaps I’m a natural
sceptic. But I have commercial oil and gas fields
with my theory so I’ll stick with it.
Ellie in Belfast (14:26:57) :
Abiogenic oil formation is a nice idea, but surely
most oil has a sulphur content consistent with that
of living organisms (>0.3%); limestone on the other
hand has generally a maximum 0.1% S. This suggests
John F. Hultquist (14:27:48) :
From the text:
According to this view, oil is fundamentally inorganic
and has no relationship to dead plant or animal life.
Rather, oil originates deep in the Earth’s crust
from inorganic material - marine carbonate deposits
The rocks under NW Pennsylvania and NE Ohio are sedimentary
layers –there are sandstones, clay, coal, shale,
and limestone deposits. Gas and oil have been found
in abundance in the region. The layers also include
salt. The salt layer under Cleveland and extending
northward under Lake Erie is about 20 feet thick and
has been mined with drills, explosives, and large
In the 1800s and early 1900s salt was obtained by
drilling wells (some were near Akron), dissolving
the buried salt with hot water and bringing it to
the surface where the water could be evaporated and
the salt obtained. It was this drilling technology
that Edwin Drake used near Titusville, PA to purposefully
drill the “first” oil well.
The source of all these layers was not “deep
in the Earth’s crust” but rather in saltwater,
marine-brackish water, and freshwater paleoenvironments.
Studies indicate a slow marine regression.
This does not refute the abiotic or abiogenic theory
of hydrocarbon formation — but it seems clear
that the hydrocarbons in the area discussed above
were not formed in that manner. Someone will have
to find a deposit that could only have been formed
in the crust (as discussed) to give this theory credibility.
Leon Brozyna (14:37:53) :
Last year, Canada Free Press ran an interesting article
on the abiogenic origins of oil. http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/3952
The article tells of the efforts of Russia (then
the USSR) to develop their oil resources:
Stalin’s team of scientists and engineers found
that oil is not a ‘fossil fuel’ but is
a natural product of planet earth – the high-temperature,
high-pressure continuous reaction between calcium
carbonate and iron oxide – two of the most abundant
compounds making up the earth’s crust. This
continuous reaction occurs at a depth of approximately
100 km at a pressure of approximately 50,000 atmospheres
(5 GPa) and a temperature of approximately 1500°C,
and will continue more or less until the ‘death’
of planet earth in millions of years’ time.
The high pressure, as well as centrifugal acceleration
from the earth’s rotation, causes oil to continuously
seep up along fissures in the earth’s crust
into subterranean caverns, which we call oil fields.
Oil is still being produced in great abundance, and
is a sustainable resource – by the same definition
that makes geothermal energy a sustainable resource.
All we have to do is develop better geotechnical science
to predict where it is and learn how to drill down
deep enough to get to it. So far, the Russians have
drilled to more than 13 km and found oil. In contrast,
the deepest any Western oil company has drilled is
around 4.5 km.
It then goes on to link to a rather technical paper
at Gas Resources Corporation: http://www.gasresources.net/AlkaneGenesis.htm
The same site also gives a non-technical overview
of the modern history of the theory of deep, abiotic
petroleum origins: http://www.gasresources.net/introduction.htm
Derek (14:49:46) :
Deep formation of oil (not coal) theory.
1) Iron, marble, water, high pressure and temperature
= oil formation. Fact, experiments can be reproduced,
this is a known to happen process. The amount it happens,
not whether it happens is merely being questioned.
2) Many deep Russian / Ukranian oil wells are below
depths fossils have ever been found at…..Explain
that biotic oil.
3) If ever there was a subject of guaranteed vested
interests, it must be oil. If oil is abiotic then
it is merely finding the rate that it is being produced
at perfectly naturally that is of interest. Making
oil THE green renewable source of energy incidentally………
If oil is biotic then it is a finite resource. If
oil is abiotic, then all oil companies have a vested
interest against this fact becoming widely understood
The high price of the supposed “finite resource”
becomes somewhat “unjustified”.
glen martin (14:49:53) :
I recall reading somewhere that below a certain depth
oil isn’t’ found, the high temperature
causes it to break down into methane (and graphite?).
If that is true only methane could be abiogenic, oil
Lucy Skywalker (15:13:20) :
As Leon Brozyna says, the Russians have drilled to
13km and found oil - whereas the rest of the world
has only gone to 4-5km. That speaks. There is actually
a lot of material on the Internet about abiotic oil.
Thomas Gold was no fool.
Just this weekend I read one of those paradigm-quaking
books - Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps.
Lots and lots of evidence that hangs together very
well, just compressed into a readable tome. Evidence
of abiotic origin of coal in particular. The presence
of plants in coal is explained very adequately. And
now I understand why Illinois coal would produce more
energy if it were mined for its uranium content.
Not for the faint-hearted; not for traditionalists.
You have been warned. That said, it’s a cracking
good read. Website http://www.iceagenow.com/