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Old 08-08-2006, 06:05 PM   #1
crockett
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dead dinosaurs and oil

This is a article posted by a webmaster on another board I visit. Interesting theory IMO as I've never really bought the whole dead dinosaurs = oil thing. Just doesn't add up for me, something such as this would make more sense to me rather than the current accepted theory of where oil comes from.

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If you remember, I write occasional scientific articles which try to summarize and/or break down new or misunderstood theories in science for the City Weekly in Salt Lake City. I’ve been asked to write a short article about a new area of research that suggests that oil maybe not be a fossil fuel and that there is plenty of it for centuries to come.

I’d like to invite your comments, it appears below;

Ever since the energy crisis of the 1970s we have been hearing about how the world is about to run out of such fossil fuels as natural gas and oil, and that we must quickly develop alternative sources. The original doomsayers appear to be wrong since, thirty years on, gas-guzzling SUVs and chugging around and getting their tanks filled at rates well below what inflation has done to most other consumer prices. Still, environmentalists argue, whether fossil fuels run out next year or next decade, they are going to run out relatively soon.

Not if Cornell University’s Thomas Gold is right in his radical theory about the “deep hot biosphere”. Miles below the surface of the earth, deeply embedded in the nooks and crannies of rocks, live primitive thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria, similar to the microorganisms that have been discovered living in thermovents deep on the ocean bottom and in the hot pools of Yellowstone National Park, and as tough as the extremophiles living within ice sheets in Antarctica and possibly even on meteors in deep space. This deep hot biosphere gets its energy not from the sun like we surface-dwelling creatures do, but from the energy of the earth’s interior. It may be so dense that is cumulatively outweighs all surface life combined, including trees and plants!

Fossil fuels, or hydrocarbons, says Gold, are not the by-product of decaying organic matter as most geologists believe. Instead, long before life formed on earth hydrocarbons developed naturally in the planet’s interior, just as they have been discovered on other planetary bodies and moons in the solar system. From the light gas methane to the heavy liquid petroleum, hydrocarbons exist in prodigious quantities and great depths and could sustain our energy needs for many centuries or millennia to come (George Dubya Bush would love this theory).

The reason scientists think that hydrocarbons have their origins in dead plants is that petroleum contains molecules that are typically the by-product of decaying organic matter. Also, when you pass light through petroleum it exhibits an optical property of rotating in a right-handed fashion, which is the result of having more right-handed molecules than left-handed molecules. (Molecules come in both right and left handed versions, but living organisms consist mostly of right-handed molecules, so a preponderance of them would indicate an organic origin.) The reason for this, says Gold, is that petroleum and other hydrocarbons have seeped up through the rocks from tens of kilometers below the surface, and in doing do have absorbed organic matter along the way. These organic signs, he concludes, are secondary to the true origin of hydrocarbons.

Evidence for Gold’s theory comes from numerous sources: petroleum from deeper levels in the crust contains fewer signs of biological origin than petroleum from shallower levels; oil from different regions of the planet should show differing chemical signs because of the different forms of life from which it was allegedly formed, yet all oil shows a common chemical signature, whish you would expect if it had a common origin deep inside the earth; one would expect to find oil at geological levels of abundant plant life but, in fact, it is found below such layers; the natural gas methane is found in many locations where life most likely did not thrive; diamonds are carbon crushed under high pressure, which Gold thinks implies the presence of carbon hundreds of kilometers below the surface.

Perhaps most striking, Gold notes that most oil fields contain far more reserves than oil companies anticipated because, he argues, they are refilled from the much larger hydrocarbon supply lying below – the drop in pressure in the oil cavity caused by drillings draws the hydrocarbons from the higher-pressure cavities below. Finally, the earth’s surface is very rich in carbonate rocks, which, as their name implies, are loaded with carbon. Gold believes that the source of the carbon is not biological but astronomical –the earth was formed by an accretion of rocks similar to the meteorites that bombard the planet today (shooting stars), one type of which is a carbonaceous chondrite. When heated under the extreme pressure of a condensing earth they would have released substantial quantities of hydrocarbons. Lighter than the surrounding material, they would then rise toward the surface, thus accounting for the high carbon content in the earth’s crust.

Geologists and earth scientists have explanations for these anomalies, but I’m impressed with Gold’s track record of being right about other heresies he has proposed, such as the nature of pulsar stars, the extent of the layer of moon dust the Apollo astronauts would encounter, and even a new theory of hearing. Like any good scientist, Gold admits that the only way to find out if his theory is correct is to drill deep into the earth’s surface and see what’s down there. In other words, the theory will stand or fall on the evidence.
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Old 08-08-2006, 06:19 PM   #2
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Re: dead dinosaurs and oil

oh btw I forgot about the Science forum you can move this topic there if you want..
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Old 08-08-2006, 08:54 PM   #3
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Re: dead dinosaurs and oil

Interesting theory, and I recall hearing about this many years ago.

Didn't sound all that radical then, and still doesn't strike me as completely radical now. The idea that all of the petroleum in the world being a by product of prehistoric life forms, always struck me as a bit radical, though.
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Old 08-08-2006, 08:56 PM   #4
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Re: dead dinosaurs and oil

Well, since I first read about it on the internet, I'm inclined to believe it.
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Old 08-08-2006, 11:57 PM   #5
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Re: dead dinosaurs and oil

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Well, since I first read about it on the internet, I'm inclined to believe it.
Well I'm just posting it up because I think it is a pretty decant theory and he brings up some very valid points. Personaly as I posted above I have never really bought into the whole dinosaurs = oil stuff. I mean how many dino's would it take to make the massive oil feilds that are out there.. Did they all just drop dead in big piles?

I mean really let's just assume it's fact that dinos = oil.. well then how the hell did most of the oil end up under the oceans? It's not like the Earth hasn't been covered in water for most of it's existence.

Let's not forget the Earth was flat until we found out otherwise. Personally I give guys like this a lot of credit for being willing to go against the flow and challenge the accepted beliefs.
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:15 AM   #6
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Re: dead dinosaurs and oil

I think it's an interesting theory, and it seems very plausible, whether or not it was found on the internet.

Crockett: A possible explaination for oil being under the oceans could be that when dinosaurs were around, the Earth was one large landmass surrounded by water, instead of several continents. After splitting, the bones could have been washed away, sunk to the bottom, and tides could have just covered them up.. over a few million years the pressure would turn the sand into rock and then the bones could eventually turn to oil.. I have no clue though.
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:23 AM   #7
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Re: dead dinosaurs and oil

I guess my biggest problem with the "fossil fuel" explanation has always been that there are a lot of fossils left around as well. Why didn't they turn to oil? Also, what about the sand/oil pits in Canada. Surely the animals/plant life up there would have just frozen in the tundra. So what forces are at work to turn the dead plant and animal life to oil, vs what normally happens with it, which is that it withers away to dust?

Just some thoughts....
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:52 AM   #8
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Re: dead dinosaurs and oil

I was just being a smartass earlier... most because I'd never heard this before.
It's an interesting theory... I didn't know there was any dispute about how oil was formed, but I don't know enough about geology to be able to say one way or the other.
I had always thought there's sure a lot of oil for it to have been formed based off of a precarious and seemingly random event of dinosaurs being trapped in very specific conditions, but that's what the scientists said right?
As long as there's stuff to put in my tank when I need it, I'll assume someone else is worrying about the nuts and bolts of it.
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