Fossil Fuels?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Grant B, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    I was taught that fossil fuels (i.e. oil) came from dead dinosaurs and other ancient life. The more I think about this, the less I believe this, Is there other theorys now or is this the current belief?
    And if it is still the case how does dead animals and plants turn into huge oil deposits many miles under the surface? I understand how the plates can can push other plates underneath each other over millions of years; but its not like there are huge mounds of dead plant and animal life that gets squeezed together under pressure and heat and turns into WD 40...ANy chemists out there?
    Thanks
     
  2. Danny R

    Danny R Supporting Actor

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    I was taught that fossil fuels (i.e. oil) came from dead dinosaurs and other ancient life.

    Not so much dinosaurs, as everything else, including microorganisms.

    The more I think about this, the less I believe this,

    Think harder. And perhaps go check out a few books on the subject.

    Is there other theorys now or is this the current belief?

    Quite accepted. No alternate scientific theories. A number of creationist ideas (I won't call them theories).

    And if it is still the case how does dead animals and plants turn into huge oil deposits many miles under the surface? I understand how the plates can can push other plates underneath each other over millions of years;

    Plate tektonics is only partially a factor. Where are our easiest oil deposits found? They aren't found as often in the mountains. They are formed in the basins of old lakes, and other low lying areas that acted as ancient reservoirs, such as the Gulf of Mexico, the plains of Oklahoma, Texas for example, the Middle East, and out in the ocean. There is a lot of life in the oceans, and it doesn't just disappear when it dies, but often sinks down to the bottom.

    Since a single flood can lay 10 or more feet of earth on top of nearby property, I don't see why you have such a problem believing ancient forest and life could also be buried.

    but its not like there are huge mounds of dead plant and animal life that gets squeezed together under pressure and heat and turns into WD 40...ANy chemists out there?

    Artificial oil has been produced in labs using heat and pressure. The process is sound science.
     
  3. Joseph Howard

    Joseph Howard Stunt Coordinator

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  4. Joseph Howard

    Joseph Howard Stunt Coordinator

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    A few Promised Cites... By the by... these are Scientific
    ideas NOT crack pot ideas.
    A few references to "Oil is Geological Not Biological".
    Professor Thomas Gold at Cornell University
    http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/tg21/
    What is the Origin of Petroleum?
    From "Nature"
    Fossil Fuel without the Fossils
    Good quote too....
    The theoretical case for a non-biological origin of oil was first made over 100 years ago. Later experiments showed that it should be possible to make oil from minerals alone.
    More Traditional Idea of Fossil Fuels.
    Origin of Fossil Fuels.
    Since the preponderance of evidence is FOR the ideas behind
    a biological origin of petroleum a simple search at
    somewhere like Yahoo can find many pages of information
    explaining the "fossil fuel" idea.
    I just wanted the original poster to be aware that
    there ARE competing *scientific* ideas and theories
    as to the origin of "oil."
    Dr. Joe
     
  5. Danny R

    Danny R Supporting Actor

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    Good links there. Guess you are right in that there is another theory, although it has yet to be proven.

    The Nature article for instance doesn't claim that oil isn't a fossil fuel, just that it can be made without fossil fuels. As I said before, oil has been created in artificial conditions simulating where we believe oil forms. Also Oil companies use data based on such assumptions when trying to locate new fields. Thus far the data matches the results very well.

    "No one disputes that hydrocarbons can form this way," says Mark McCaffrey, a geochemist with OilTracers LLC, a petroleum-prospecting consultancy in Dallas, Texas. A tiny percentage of natural oil deposits are known to be non-biological2 - but this doesn't mean that petrol isn't a fossil fuel, he says.

    Gold's work though is very interesting, but his views are not widely accepted. (although he has a number of fans in those who oppose conservation). Gold is however known for his off-center ideas, such as his Steady-State universe theory, and predicting the Lunar Modules would sink into a deep sea of lunar dust.

    However Gold isn't considered a crank, either, because he proposes several ways his ideas can be tested (he plays by the scientific method). First of course is the discovery of one of his super underground oil reservoirs. Also he theorizes that depleted oil fields should regenerate since the source of their oil is actually much lower. Now that the pressure is gone, they can refill. As yet however neither has occurred.

    However a problem with his ideas of oil coming from much deeper, as yet undiscovered reservoirs, is that oil cracks at the temperatures where such reservoirs would be located, turning into methane and graphite. Such cracking is already found in many shallower oil fields.
     
  6. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Thanks guys much better than I expected, a lot of knowledge on this forum.
    I thought I ran across a brief reference to an alternative many years ago but really couldnt remember any details or if it had been dismissed.
    Dr Joe, thanks for the links! I will run through them. The engineer in me makes me interested in a lot of very deverse topics, but time is a very limited item and text books are hard to digest when your living does not depend on it.
    Thanks again!
    Grant
     
  7. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    That book "The Deep Hot Biosphere" (Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, $27) sounds pretty interesting, would you know if it directed at professionals or more for the enlightened general public?
     
  8. Joseph Howard

    Joseph Howard Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm finding the reading of some of this material fascinating. So I thought I'd share what I've found.
    Some more interesting reading.
    The first pre-print is pretty interesting. It mentions
    both biological and non-biological oil creation.
    Oil and Natural Gas on Mars?
    Even more....
    More from Thomas Gold.
    And a snippet I found...
    Question:
    Is oil still forming anywhere on Earth, or is there some reason it stopped being created millions of years ago?
    Robert Barron,
    Denver, Colorado
    Wayne M. Ahr, Williford Professor of Petroleum Geology at Texas A&M University, replies:
    Some oil and natural gas are forming in the Earth today, but the process is slow, it requires a very specific sequence of events, and it takes place only where conditions are just right.
    The mechanism that created oil and gas began in ocean sedimentary basins, where eroded sand and minerals collect. Microscopic plankton lived on the surface of the water, then died and sank to the bottom. In deep-water or highly sheltered basins the still waters allowed plankton to accumulate, and a lack of oxygen prevented them from decomposing. Sediments gradually buried the plankton, piling up at a rate of perhaps a few tenths of an inch a year. Once there was about 1,000 feet of overlying sediment, the organic material began to transform into a waxy compound known as kerogen, while the surrounding sediments compressed and transformed into rocks such as shale or sandstone. As sediment kept piling on to push the layers ever deeper, Earth's internal heat "cooked" kerogen into oil and gas. Finally, the hydrocarbons migrated to porous rocks that by chance were shaped into traps. These traps commonly lie thousands of feet below the surface and are difficult to find. Nearly ideal conditions for creating oil once existed in an ancient ocean called the Tethys Seaway, which later closed up to form the modern Persian Gulf. The oil we use was formed millions to hundreds of millions of years ago, so don't hold your breath waiting for today's plankton to make tomorrow's oil.
    Anyway... just for some interesting reading..
    Dr. Joe
     
  9. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    The fossil fuel myth is a great tool for demanding higher oil prices based on a perceived rarity and a finite amount of the resource. [​IMG]
     
  10. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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  11. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Grant, take a look at the Amazon.com information on Gold's book.

    I have this book. Although it is well-written, it is somewhat dense. Not really a book for the layman, although Gold does explain the principles lucidly, so you don't need to know anything about geology beforehand. I would categorize it as "hard-science for the general public".
     
  12. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Thanks Max, I appreciate that. I will forward it to my wife. She has a fairly humongous telescope and has a higher interest in the subject.

    Dr Joe
    That Blurb really helped me understand why people would believe the fossil fuel argument. I guess I always had a problem with the fact that some became fossils and then (for my limited knowledge) for some reason, some became fossil fuels.
     
  13. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    My wife had a very good question: The La Brea Tar Pits seem to confirm and deny the fossil fuel hypothesis. I would imagine that the tar is oil based (maybe it is crude oil for that matter) ...and the prehistoric life is definitely there. But it's at the surface and hence no high temperature or other conditions that seem to be needed.
    Any ideas?
     
  14. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    The tar is normally "siphoned" up from the shale from below. That is, when you have oil from far below (miles) under tremendous pressure, and you have porous rock in the way, the pressure would cause the oil to leak into this porous rock (shale or whatever else that happens to be porous). It would be similar to how a sponge would cause water to migrate upwards, even if only part of the sponge was touching the water.
    In northern Alberta, we have oil sands where the oil is embedded within large areas of sand.
    The prehistoric life would have been very unlucky when the oil started coming out. [​IMG]
     

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