Friday, June 27, 2008

Serpentine Plugs



The pink area in the map above shows Travis Volcanic Mounds aka "Serpentine Plugs": GCAGS Transactions Volume 32 (1982)

Since their discovery in 1915, hydrocarbon traps in and around "serpentine plugs" have produced about 47 million barrels of oil, and have significant potential for additional small discoveries. Production is from isolated reservoirs within mounds of altered volcanic tuff and associated shoal-water carbonates. A review of the more than 200 volcanic centers and intrusive bodies of South and Central Texas has led to development of stratigraphic and seismic models useful in exploration and production.

The so-called serpentine plugs are largely tuff mounds formed by accumulation of volcanic ash (altered to palagonite) on the seafloor around a submarine volcanic vent. Volcanic activity peaked during deposition of the chalk and marl of the upper Austin and lower Taylor Groups (about 80 million years ago). After their eruption, the tuff mounds localized the deposition of shoal-water carbonates with good porosity and permeability. Low-permeability, organic-rich marine shale and marl of the Taylor Group capped the carbonates, serving as both a hydrocarbon source and a stratigraphic seal. Compactional draping of overlying San Miguel and Olmos sands, with minor offset faulting, created important additional traps in South Texas.

Central Texas volcanic centers are highly aligned along strike-oriented regional faults and fractures of the Balcones and Luling systems. The magmas in both Central and South Texas were ultramafic and alkaline, suggesting that partial melting occurred at depths of about 40 miles (60 kilometers). The magma rose rapidly to the surface, probably in an extensional stress regime controlled by pre-Tertiary Balcones-Luling faults.

The palagonite tuff of a typical productive volcanic center has low seismic velocity and is encased in high-velocity carbonates. The strong velocity contrast, coupled with the distinctive shape of the tuff mass, yields a characteristic seismic pattern. Modern seismic techniques, together with stratigraphic data, allow accurate delineation of buried tuff mounds and prediction of productive carbonate facies.
CENTRAL TEXAS TRAVIS VOLCANIC MOUND PROSPECTS

A Texas based company has leases on a magnetic anomaly in central Texas that appears to be a Travis volcanic mound, and thus a potential undiscovered oil field. Travis mounds are ancient volcanoes that erupted during the Late Cretaceous (70 to 80 million years ago) and formed mounds on the shallow sea floor. The mounds were partially eroded and then covered with younger sediments. The mounds in central Texas are generally referred to as “Travis volcanic mounds” for the surface exposure of one of these mounds in Travis County. The mounds are commonly called “serpentine plugs” because the mineral serpentine commonly occurs in the mounds. Some of the minerals that occur in these mounds are magnetic, hence the magnetic anomalies over these mounds. The mounds have formed structurally high areas in the subsurface that provide traps for oil and gas.

Thirty-eight oil fields in central Texas are associated with Travis volcanic mounds. These fields range in size from 3000 barrels to 11,500,000 barrels of oil recovered, and occur at depths between 900 feet and 1800 feet. Some wells in the mound fields have produced as much as 5000 BOPD (barrels of oil per day) initially, but the initial production of most wells was between 25 BOPD and 100 BOPD. Most of the better wells were located near fractures that are prevalent in the mounds. Most of the oil fields that are associated with Travis volcanic mounds were discovered in the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s, although six fields were discovered between 1913 and 1929 and three fields were discovered between 1964 and 1977. Over half of the fields are still active including some of the early discoveries. Some of the first oil fields found on the Travis volcanic mounds were discovered by farmers drilling water wells.

Oil is found in at least four different geologic settings in the mounds. Much of the oil occurs in porous areas within the generally altered volcanic igneous rocks that form the mounds. Some oil is found in sedimentary rocks (sandstones and limestones) within the mounds, some oil occurs in sedimentary rocks that overlie the mounds, and some oil is trapped in sedimentary rocks that pinch out on the flanks of the mounds. Thus there are non-productive areas within the confines of the fields associated with the mounds. This prospect appears to cover about 300 acres.

The magnetic anomaly associated with this prospect is comparable to the anomalies associated with one million to three million barrel fields, although the size and intensity of magnetic anomalies is sometimes misleading. Most of the magnetic anomalies that occur in the area are associated with Travis volcanic mounds. The other magnetic anomalies have not been drilled but are believed to be Travis volcanic mounds. A geochemical survey acquired recently found significant (anomalous) concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons in the soil over the prospect. This suggests minute leakage from an accumulation of hydrocarbons at depth. Additionally, the operator has acquired satellite data that suggest the presence of soil within the prospect that has been altered mineralogically. This condition has been observed in soils over known oil and gas fields. All of these data together suggest a fairly high probability that a commercial accumulation of hydrocarbons (likely oil) exists under the prospect.

38 comments:

Anaconda said...

Excellent post!

Anaconda said...

TEXAS CRUDE OIL CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH ANCIENT VOLCANIC ACTIVITY

What seems strikingly clear after reviewing this post is the close association between oil and ancient volcanic activity in Texas.

"A review of the more than 200 volcanic centers and intrusive bodies of South and Central Texas has led to development of stratigraphic and seismic models useful in exploration and production."

And this association stretches to different kinds of vocanic formations, as Coste argued, salt domes are also a form of 'solfataric' activity.

"The so-called serpentine plugs are largely tuff mounds formed by accumulation of volcanic ash (altered to palagonite) on the seafloor around a submarine volcanic vent."

"The magma rose rapidly to the surface, probably in an extensional stress regime controlled by pre-Tertiary Balcones-Luling faults."

The serpentine plugs might be more aptly described as a "straw," rather than a plug because the mineral serpentine goes down the mantle.

Serpentine belts exist in the mantle. Serpentine is a family of minerals of closely related structures.

Amesite - Mg2Al(SiAl)O5(OH)4
Cronstedtite - Fe2+2Fe3+(SiFe3+)O5(OH)4
Fraipontite - (Zn,Al)3(Si,Al)2O5(OH)4
Nepouite - Ni3Si2O5(OH)4

This is not exhaustive of the serpentine "group."

The point, here, is that minerals have many variations -- abiotic processes create numerous minerals. And that serpentine is a mantle rock. Is it reasonable to postulate that the serpentine acted like a straw so that oil could clime the serpentine column?

"Thirty-eight oil fields in central Texas are associated with Travis volcanic mounds. These fields range in size from 3000 barrels to 11,500,000 barrels of oil recovered, and occur at depths between 900 feet and 1800 feet."

This would suggest that this type of volcanic feature is not as oil prolific as the salt domes. Still, the shape of the serpentine "straw" allows oil to rise from depth like oil squeezing up the outside a casing in a borehole.

"Most of the better wells were located near fractures that are prevalent in the mounds."

"Over half of the fields are still active including some of the early discoveries."

"...although six fields were discovered between 1913 and 1929..."

So, some of the early fields are still producing after at least 80 years! And these oil finds are not big to begin with. That suggests the a constant supply of oil at a fixed rate is rising from deeper deposits and climing the serpentine "pole."

This is direct evidence of regeneration in a modern oil well.

An interesting piece of data would be the "flow rate" for these still producing oil wells and a history of flow rate over time.

"Much of the oil occurs in porous areas within the generally altered volcanic igneous rocks that form the mounds."

"Most of the magnetic anomalies that occur in the area are associated with Travis volcanic mounds."

George F. Becker in his 1909 paper identifies magnetic anomalies in the Appalachean oil fields of Pennsilvania.

I have argued this magnetic property is inconsistent with oil derived from organic detritus and the 'Travis mounds' confirm this assertion.

In conlusion this post provides proof at every level of the Abiotic origin of petroleum and the potential for regeneration -- another provocative corollary of Abiotic Oil theory.

Anaconda said...

CAN PETROLEUM FORM AT SHALLOWER DEPTHS?

To Quantum_Flux:
You raised the possibility that oil forms at shallower depths than has been postulated on this website and in the modern Russian-Ukranian abiotic theory.

Magma can be over 2400 degrees Celsius. Dolomite associated with oil has a melting point over 2100 celsius. And serpentine's melting point is about 1700 Celsius.

Could it be that hot pockets form at shallower depths of the mantle and this in turn fuels the petroleum creation process?

There are minerals that can excrete hydocarbons upon application of acids. This would suggest those minerals, while having complicated elemental composition, don't hold tightly certain elements, possibly including the carbon and hydrogen elements in environments of heat and pressure. Might these minerals also serve as catalysts for the high affinity between carbon and hydrogen, allowing the two elements to combine into hydrocarbons at decreased pressure as long as specific temperature requirements are met?

We know that hotspots in the Earth's mantel can exist at relatively shallow dephs.

It seems worth exploring.

There maybe more than one abiotic process that creates petroleum, or a larger "window" for creation of petroleum.

Could there be deep petroleum creation and shallow petroleum creation if certain temperature and pressure conditions are met?

Can higher temperatures create hydrocarbons at less pressure?

All solid questions to be asked and attempted to be answered.

Quantum_Flux said...

My gut feeling is that crude oil can't form abiotically at lower pressures and higher temperatures, but that methane certainly could.

Anaconda said...

To Quantum_Flux:
Good distinction between methane and crude oil -- as everybody recognizes methane forms at shallow depth from organic detritus all the time.

Anaconda said...

1901 SPINDLETOP: A VOLCANIC OIL GUSHER

Reference,
Eugene Coste
Canadian Mining Institute Journal: The Volcanic Origin Of Natural Gas And Petroleum (1903)
(Available by direct link at left-hand column under Eugene Coste)

Mr. Coste lays out the evidence for the volcanic origin of Spindletop in convincing fashion.

It must be remembered that it was not professionals in geology, but rather amateurs that found and recognized the oil potential of Spindletop by using geological hunches and knowledge of existing seeps to promote drilling for oil at Spindletop in 1901.

The evidence for Mr. Coste's theory is laid out in the following quotes:

"[t]he "Mounds" of the coast prairie, such as the famous "Spindletop," near Beaumount, which are clearly nothing else but "suffonis" or "salses," hardly extinct yet, grouped along fractured lines(2) and marking in that region the dying out of volcanicity..." p.89

"...[L]arge deposits of these eminently vocanic products sulphur and salt." p.90

"...[T]hough limited in diameter, [salt domes] were of great depth..." p.90

"Sulphur and sulphuretted hydrogen gas occur in the intimate association with Beaumont oil." p.91

"Crystals of free sulphur also occur in the cap rock overlying Sindletop oil." p.91

"Still another interesting phenomenon is the occurance of dolomite. The oil of Spindletop is said to occur in a cavernous mass of this material." p.92

It needs to be commented on at this juncture that the oil was found within the dolomite, which contradicts the idea that oil seeped up next to the salt dome because it "punched" a hole in the roof rock layers. Rather oil is intermingled with the dolomite.

"To the vocanic solphataric phase of phenomena these mounds, or rather, as we can see vertical chimneys, must surely belong. How else could be explained their hot oil, their hot water, and especially their vertical chimney like masses of sulphur, salt, limestone and dolomite permeated and impregnated with natural gas, oil and hydrogen sulphuret gas?" p.92-93

The key words for me are "permeated" and "impregnated" in this last quote.

This description, again, strongly contradicts the idea that salt domes rise up and "punch" a hole through a layer of sedimentary cap rock that is holding oil in a dispersed fashion, but then due to the "punching" effect "traps" the oil next to the salt dome.

Coste's description is much more consistent with oil rising in conjunction with the salt dome.

Wouldn't there be residual oil present in non-commercial quanities in the areas surrounding the domes, if the "punch" idea had validity? But yet what is reported is a pronounced "bareness" of oil even in reasonable proximity to the Spindletop salt dome itself.

The notation of no oil outside the salt dome formation supports the concept of a solfataric chimney or "straw" and that oil is carried up along with the other volcanic associates from great depth unconnected to organic detritus dispersed in sedimentary layers in so-called source rock as proposed by "fossil" theory.

Both the Travis volcanic mounds and the "Mounds" created by salt domes are of volcanic origin.

Needless to say, I encourage everybody to read Coste's work, as a 'founding' exhibition of Abiotic Theory.

The difference is that Travis volcanic mounds are specifically called "volcanic," while the salt domes are not.

But both are examples of "straws" that carry petroleum from great depth to the surface from "source faults" in the tectonic fracture network that runs along the Gulf of Mexico coastline and inland therefrom.

Spindletop:

A "Volcanic Oil Field?"

Yes, indeedy!

Anaconda said...

THE "BARRENESS" OF SOURCE ROCK: THE PROBLEM FOR "FOSSIL" THEORY

The idea that so-called "source rock" is the origin of petroleum is a central tenent of "fossil" theory. Many of the "proofs" on which "fossil" theory relies, revolve around proving the association between so-called "source rock" and petroleum.

But what of the problem for "fossil" theory, when there is "source rock," but no traces of organic detritus, "kerogen," or oil in even residual quanities?

Such is the problem in parts of Texas that have sedimentary layers of roof rock or as "fossil" theory calls it, "source rock," but it's devoid of crude oil, even in residual amounts.

One has to go back to the basics of "fossil" theory to see the problem clearly: As per fossil theory: Shallow seas form on ancient coastlines, where organic detritus precipitates down to the bottom of the sea from algae and other small biological organisms. By its very natured this is a diffused process over the breadth of the entire shallow sea basin. Therefore, the orgainic detritus -- our future oil -- is spread out in relatively even fashion. Burial occurs and depth increases, raising the temperature and pressure to a level where diagenesis occurs, creating "kerogen," and in a seperate process catagenesis occurs to the kerogen and oil is created. This process would necessarily happen over a broad area and create an even layer of oil, which then "migrates" into pools in the statigraphic column.

So far, so good.

But here's the problem:

Even taking into consideration the idea of "migrating" oil, wouldn't there be "residual" pockets of oil in the source rock?

But rather what is found in Texas is that no oil, or traces of "kerogen" are found in dispersed fashion around the Travis volcanic mounds, or the salt domes. The oil is found in direct association with the these volcanic anomalies, but not in the presumably "mother" source rock surrounding the volcanic features.

Surely, there would be residual oil in this source rock if it was the "hinterland" for the concentration of oil at the volcanic anomalies?

Perhaps that is why there have been so many "dry holes" drilled in Texas: The assumption that sedimentary layers of roof rock would have oil because, according to "fossil" theory, any anticline in a large area of "source rock" sediment should have oil -- whereas, in practice, many supposed places where oil would accumulate, are, in fact, barren because they are unconnected to the real source of oil -- volcanic chimneys or "straws" that act as a conduit for oil to travel up to the surface from "source faults" at great depth in the tectoic fissures located in the region.

Of course, this also suggests there are larger deposits of oil deeper in the stratigraphic column that these "volcanic straws" draw upon for their "source" of oil.

"Fossil" theory has the problem of "barren" source rock, it has never owned up too.

Probably, because there is no readily available explanation.

When there is no explanation for an observed phenomenon in contradiction to a hypothesis, that observation demonstrates a weakness in the hypothesis.

Maybe even a "mortal" weakness.

BrianR said...

Interesting points Anaconda ... let me get your impression on a related issue.

"Oil shales" such as the Green River Formation been demonstrated to generate a useable fuel. The rock, which is exposed along mountainsides in western Colorado, is mined, heated to high temperatures, and the hydrocarbons are extracted. The first retort kiln in Colorado was in 1918. Since then there have been several attempts to extract this resource economically. Technically, it's do-able ... the processing techniques have been around for several decades ... (China, Brazil, Australia, and others are currently mining and processing it).

The widely-accepted theory regarding the origin of the hydrocarbons in these kinds of rocks is that the oil shale IS the source rock ... in other words, it never migrated to a different reservoir rock (e.g., sandstone). You've stated over and over that you do not accept this idea (you don't need to do it again in response to this).

My question then is, how do the hydrocarbons get into the shale? The hydrocarbons have different concentrations in different stratigraphic layers (e.g., the famous Mahogeny Ledge is particularly rich), but within a layer, the hydrocarbons can be distributed relatively evenly.

If the hydrocarbons are coming from sub-crustal levels through the "straw" that you propose, what is the mechanism for distributing it throughout such a low-permeability rock?

To review:
(1) oil shales exist
(2) oil has been extracted from them for decades

You write very prolificly on the subject of abiotic oil so I hope you can elucidate this for me. I know your thoughts and perspetives on abiotic theory in general by now, I'm hoping you can address this issue specifically. Thanks.

Anaconda said...

To BrianR:
You have "hit the nail on the head" of the problem for Abiotic Oil.

Shale oil violates one of the prime contentions of Coste, who claimed roof rock was impermeable, therefore, could not hold the organic detritus required for "fossil" theory to work.

Because, according to Coste, roof rock can't be impermeable enough to "trap" the oil, and at the same time be permeable enough to allow oil converted from kerogen to exit and then collect in reservoirs.

But then there is shale oil.

"My question then is, how do the hydrocarbons get into the shale?"

Good question.

To answer, I think there are two considerations. One, heat and pressure have something to do with it. Not the heat and pressure that creates Abiotic Oil, but rather the heat and pressure involved in the expulsion & travelling process. Maybe, more explicitly, the different ways for hydrocarbons to reach the surface.

According to Abiotic Theory as developed on this website, there are cataclysmic and non-cataclysmic processes for petroleum to travel to the near surface, or even reach the surface.

Travis volcanic mounds and salt domes are non-cataclysmic.

But there are examples of cataclysmic hydrocarbon expulsions like the Canadian tar sands, the Siberian Traps, or the massive coal expulsions (coal is controversial, but a direct link offers some interesting evidence of coal's cataclysmic origin, listed under Introduction To The Science Of Abiotic Petroleum Origin as Infinite Oil).

Two, consideration must be given to what "kerogen" is made of in terms of atomic elements. There is no strict definition of kerogen, but I did find one description based on elemental atomic weight: C215H330. This is an extremely heavy atomic weight, and a very, very long hydrocarbon chain.

It should be mentioned that petroleum is interesting in that bitumens, solid petroleum with long hydrocarbon chains, can be heated, "cracking" the bitumen into shorter chains, as you thus describe:

"The rock, which is exposed along mountainsides in western Colorado, is mined, heated to high temperatures, and the hydrocarbons are extracted. The first retort kiln in Colorado was in 1918."

So, it raises the question: Is organic detritus converted by diagenesis from short chain lipids into extremely long chain hydrocarbons in the form of kerogen?

How likely is that event in terms of chemical energy requirements?

I realize the above soliloquy is non-responsive, as the above is answering a question with another question. However, hopefully, I will be able to tie it into a direct response.

This area, where the shale oil predominates is not too far from the Yellowstone Supervolcano caldera. One of the largest Supervolcanoes on Earth.

Tremedous volcanic forces of heat and pressure were released to the surface and near surface.

Perhaps, in the course of this volcanic eruptive process, hydrocarbons were released to the surface acting like pumice or ash coating and mixing in such a dramatic, violent fashion that heavy hydrocarbons literally mixed with the shale before it hardened and was buried by subsequent layers. So, in essence the heavy oil or bitumen was a constituent of the shale from it's inception?

"If the hydrocarbons are coming from sub-crustal levels through the "straw" that you propose, what is the mechanism for distributing it throughout such a low-permeability rock?"

I guess my answer relying on cataclysmic forces is radical.

But abiotic theory anticipates there is more than one mechanism or process for petroleum to reach the surface.

In previous posts and comments, this website has addressed the concept of catacysmic geological events.

Also, in the category of "radical" and possibly equally unsatisfying: Could the entire shale been injected into the formation as some kind of viscous liquid, later hardening, and so in a sense, is not roof rock in this guise, but actually the material, which was contained by other roof rock?

Perhaps, this is still unsatisfying as an answer because rather than giving one answer, I have given a couple of different answers.

I appreciate your asking one of the hardest questions for Abiotic Theory to answer.

But if the theory can't answer the hardest questions, as I pointed out myself, it isn't much of a theory.

Please, may I reserve the right to also take the question under advisement, realizing more thought and research may be needed to give a satisfying answer.

Thanks for the question.

Anaconda said...

To BrianR:
The Bakken oil formation might be an analogy to the shale oil. How so? Taking a look at the structure of the formation you have shale trapping the oil as desribed below:

The Bakken oil formation is called a "sheet" oil formation because there are two layers of shale cap rock with dolomite mineral interspersed with oil between the shale layers. Since the oil is dispersed in the "sheet" there tends to be no sizable deposits.

"Fossil" theory holds that the dolomite was laid down as sediment. Abiotic oil argues that the dolomite is a 'solfataric' mineral that travelled up into the formation with the oil, rising from a "source fault".

This discussion adds to the idea that shale oil was a heated and pressurized "heavy oil slurry" that under tremendous pressure and heat rose into the formation analogous in a loose fashion to the Bakken formation, but the shale oil had a heavier weight and was mixed with "shale" particles.

Although, this assumes the "shale" of shale oil was non-sedimentary, which is a radical proposition.

This is a follow up to try and put a "little more meat" on the injection theory "bone."

Possibly, the surface sedimentary idea of a mix of heavy oil and ash or pumice being laid down is more appealing, as it honors the sedimentary model.

These are admittedly "brainstorm" type answers.

I'm curious if either hypothesis holds any water for you upon consideration?

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... thanks for your responses. I do appreciate the discussion.

You say: "Perhaps, in the course of this volcanic eruptive process, hydrocarbons were released to the surface acting like pumice or ash coating and mixing in such a dramatic, violent fashion that heavy hydrocarbons literally mixed with the shale before it hardened and was buried by subsequent layers."

I guess I don't quite understand that mechanism. Firstly, shale, or mudstone, is a sedimentary deposit representative of relatively "quiet" depositional environments - where clay to silt-sized particles can settle out of the water column and accumulate at the sediment-water interface without being reworked by stronger currents. Secondly, in an explosive eruption like the one you cite, the volatiles will typically be in a gaseous form - sounds like you are proposing the hydrocarbons to be solid particulate matter? This idea can be tested ... there have been plenty of volcanic eruptions since geologists have been monitoring them. I would look into the literature. Would you expect this in silicic or basaltic eruptions?

You say: "Could the entire shale been injected into the formation as some kind of viscous liquid, later hardening, and so in a sense, is not roof rock in this guise, but actually the material, which was contained by other roof rock?"

That's a thought ... but when you look at the Green River Formation in outcrop, you can see stratification at multiple scales - from laminae at the millimeter scale to bedding at the meter scale. See a photograph here. Meaning that each layer needs to be explained - since there are slight grain size differences from layer to layer, the origin is related to slightly different depositional processes.

You bring up the Bakken ... that one is also in the news a lot lately (also try looking up the Marcellus Shale in NY/PA). These are analogous although the situation is different from the Green River because they are largely still in the subsurface ... the retort process is done in situ, which is an engineering challenge (a topic for another time). Anyway ... I could be mistaken, but I don't think dolomite is associated with the Bakken Fm. As far as I knew it was a siliciclastic (as opposed to carbonate) shale ... but I'd have to look that up.

You say: "Although, this assumes the "shale" of shale oil was non-sedimentary, which is a radical proposition."

Yes, a non-sedimentary origin for shale is a departure from conventional theory. The outcrops of the Green River are most certainly sedimentary in origin (it's exposed at the surface, we can see it) ... the other subsurface oil shales are a bit more problematic.

I'd have to think about these some more ... intriguing for sure.

Finally ... I'm perplexed that you keep mentioning cataclysmic events in such a way that you don't think modern geology accepts them? Am I understanding that? If so, where does this idea come from? For both my graduate degrees I studied turbidity currents and their deposits - these are high-magnitude and infrequent (on a human time scale) events that are found all over the world throughout the 4.5 billion-year geologic record. Geology moved on from the so-called 'catastrophism' vs. 'uniformitarianism' debate a hundred years ago. I recommend a great paper by Gretener (1967) titled "The Significance of the Rare Event" and S.J. Gould's fantastic 1965 essay "Is Uniformitarianism Necessary" as a good place to start. Gould discusses this history, the abandonment of uniformitarianism that assumes invariance of RATES of processes we see operating on the Earth today and highlights the actual principle of uniformitarianism, which deals with invariance in the types of PROCESSES we see on Earth with the realization that magnitudes and rates can indeed vary. You can get Gould's paper here.

Again ... thanks for the discussion.

Anaconda said...

To BrianR:
Just goes to show one shouldn't shoot from the lip. I'd say you sent me packing. I'll have to slink back to my lair and lick my wounds. It's apparent I engaged in wild speculation and didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground regarding shale oil:

Research,
Research,
Research,

Then reason based on evidence and facts. And only then draw conclusions.

But hey, now I know my ignorance on shale oil. One can't remedy a situation until one is aware of it.

Thanks.

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... I appreciate the chance to discuss this ... as I said in the 'methane zit' thread, I don't reject the possibility of abiogenic oil outright. I've learned a few things from you and a few of the links on this site about that topic (although some of the links seem to have nothing to do with the theory ... but that's another story). There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties ... which is exciting for research opportunities.

What I do reject, however, is the outright dismissal of biogenic theory. This is what I was getting at when I was speaking (admittedly a bit snarky) about dichotomies. Biogenic oil concepts have been applied and are still being applied to explore for and produce oil. These companies are after profit and increasing shareholder value ... they will use and apply the concepts that help them with that goal. Again ... is it possible they are missing something? Yeah, sure. But that doesn't mean that everything else that has been proven to work is thrown out the window. See what I mean?

I appreciate your longer explanations ... this is the only way to get to the "nitty gritty".

And you mention research ... in this day and age, with the web, there's a chance for anyone to dig into topics at great depth. We aren't to the point where the journals with the most rigorous work are free to the general public yet ... perhaps someday ... but there is a lot out there. The USGS site and the hundreds of internal pages have a wealth of information.

Anaconda said...

To BrianR:
The response is appreciated, especially after being taken to task.

I've done additional research, but there is only so much on the internet. Of that, nothing attempts to explain shale oil from an abiotic perspective -- no doubt, as it's a hard question to answer, and while in science hard questions must be answered, human nature being what it is, most people avoid the hard questions.

So, I'm on my own.

Let's start from the known and move to the unknown later.

"Consideration must be given to what "kerogen" is made of in terms of atomic elements. There is no strict definition of kerogen, but I did find one description based on elemental atomic weight: C215H330. This is an extremely heavy atomic weight, and a very, very long hydrocarbon chain."

I was right about the composition of kerogen in general terms, although as I previously stated kerogen has a wide variety of compositions. Here is an atomic weight given in Wikipedia:

"Kerogen from the Green River Formation oil shale deposit of western North America contains elements in the proportions C 215 : H 330 : O 12 : N 5 : S 1."

So a heavy atomic weight -- heavier than water. Heavy oil is also heavier than water, which goes against the standard idea that oil is lighter than water (most oils are lighter than water, heavy crude oil is an exception).

It's clear shale oil, as wikipedia noted the name is a misnomer because its not oil in the conventional sense, but really shale embedded with heavy hydrocarbons, is the product of sedimentation.

"The Green River Formation is an Eocene geologic formation that records the sedimentation in a series of intermountain lakes."

So, its clear my earlier attempts at answering were wrong (the two theories I hypothesized).

We also know, while there are other deposits of shale oil, there are also many more shale formations with no hydrocarbons embedded at all.

This would lead to suggest that shale oil deposits are the result of specific and limited conditions.

What would be those conditions? Obviously, "fossil" theory has made its conclusions, which I won't recite, unless illustrative of a point of interest.

Remember, I stated so-called kerogen has very high atomic weight, such as it would not float on water, but sink to the bottom of a body of water should it be introduced.

The sedimentary lakes were in large basins of low lying areas. So they would collect run-off from the surrounding raparian reaches. (The Rocky Mountain upthrust has raised the elevation of the oil shale from its original low lying basin site of formation.)

This run-off would include organic detritus, but also anything else leaching into the lakes.

That could be the key.

We know heavy oil has high atomic weight hydrocarbon chains. bitumens also have high atomic weight hydrocarbon chains, as well some coals.

We know heavy oil will come to the surface: "The Pitch Lake is a lake of natural asphalt [very heavy oil] located at La Brea in southwest Trinidad. The origin of Pitch Lake is related to deep faults in connection with subduction under the Caribbean Plate related to Barbados Arc." Wikipedia.

Notice the connection to the tectonic faults in the region as stated by Wikipedia.

Also: "La Brea Tar Pits (or Rancho La Brea Tar Pits) are a famous cluster of tar pits located in Hancock Park in the urban heart of Los Angeles, California, United States. Asphalt (colloquially termed tar, which in Spanish is termed brea, see below) has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years." Wikipedia.

We know that not only can this "tar" manifest itself as open "lakes," but also as natural seeps which open to the surface.

So we have a source of ultra-heavy oil, with high atomic weight. We also have the possibility of bitumens and even coals that contain heavy atomic weight hydrocarbons.

We know that there are deep fractures and faults in the continental divide region and volcanic and solfataric activity in the region as well (Yellowstone). As well as some oil deposits.

So, this is the Abiotic hypothesis of shale oil: Seeps or tar pits of heavy oil, or outcrps of bitumens, and even coal surround the lakes.

The rain over the "seasons" leaches this heavy oil (heavy atomic weight hydrocarbons) into the lake which then sinks to the bottom (you could even have underwater heavy oil seeps in the lakes contributing).

This explains the embedded nature of the hydrocarbons. It also explains why layers have a higher or lower concentrations of hydrocarbons because in different "seasons" (like tree rings) more or less leaching of heavy hydrocarbons occurred into the lake -- that also explains the relative even concentration of hydrocarbons within each "season" (layer of sedimentary rock).

What starts a new layer or season?

Possibly the lakes go dry? Or something else.

This also explains why different shale oil formations, or "beds" have different compositions of so-called kerogen because different mixes of hydrocarbons from different sources have leached into the various lakes in different parts of the world. Or even different raparian basins in the same region.

This might also explain why "fossil" theory folks got it so wrong -- because while there is organic detritus in the lakes from the same time as the hydrocarbon leaching -- they are not a causation of each other. Both are seperate contaminants of the lakes.

But "fossil" theory wrongly conflated the presence of both hydrocarbons and biocontaminates together because of their bias for their own theory.

By the way, the Bakken oil formation is not shale oil, but light sweet crude. The problem is that the oil is honeycombed with dolomite, which can strand the oil in small pockets within the formation. This caused oil wells to go dry after first producing. The "fracturing" is done to break up the dolomite "honeycomb" to open up the honeycombs to keep the oil from being stranded causing wells to go dry.

Brian, the reason I do not except "fossil" theory at all, is simple: The Second Law of Thermodynamics prevents organic detritus from converting from low potential molecular energy states to high potential molecular energy states.

But there are other scientific reasons as well.

(Reviewing the work of J.F. Kenney of Gas Resources, available by direct link on this website would be helpful to you to understand why I reject "fossil" theory entirely.)

Only "brown" coal or lignite coal is shown to be from peat bogs.

The rest is abiotic.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "We also know, while there are other deposits of shale oil, there are also many more shale formations with no hydrocarbons embedded at all."

In fact, the vast majority of shales are not oil shale/shale oil ... point being?

You say: "We know that there are deep fractures and faults in the continental divide region and volcanic and solfataric activity in the region as well (Yellowstone). As well as some oil deposits."

I don't understand why the presence of tectonic features definitively demonstrates the origin of oil. Yes, of course, the Rocky Mtn region has faults ... faults are everywhere, the crust has a structure. Citing the presence of crustal structures does not demonstrate an abiogenic origin for hydrocarbons. Moreover, the first signs of volcanism at Yellowstone are dated at ~17 Ma, the Eocene (Green River Fm) is 55-34 Ma. In other words, the sediments and hydrocarbons of the Green River Fm predate Yellowstone volcanic activity by at least 15 million yrs.

You say: "So, this is the Abiotic hypothesis of shale oil: Seeps or tar pits of heavy oil, or outcrps of bitumens, and even coal surround the lakes."

I'm glad you pose this - this is testable! The interior and shoreline systems of these Eocene lakes are preserved in the geologic record. One could examine the rocks and address the presence/absence ancient tar pits and seeps. I'm not an expert on the Green River Fm (the surrounding but time-equivalent rocks have different names) so I can't say for sure. But, since your hypothesis is testable ... you need data to address it ... simple as that. Compile all the data/information you can find about the geology of the Green River Fm, go visit the outcrops yourself (you can get geologic maps from the USGS inexpensively). Collect some data and test your idea - this is science. You would also want to do some sort of mass-balance calculations to figure out how much of these surface seeps/outcrops/pits would be required over a certain time frame to produce the volumes estimated in the Green River.

You say: "The rain over the "seasons" leaches this heavy oil (heavy atomic weight hydrocarbons) into the lake which then sinks to the bottom (you could even have underwater heavy oil seeps in the lakes contributing)."

This is also testable. Research the literature for modern lake systems around the world to see if there's an present-day analogous situation. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't ... but the work needs to be done.

This is my point ... this is why I linked to the ODP data repository for the methane seep stuff ... you need data. You can keep citing the single paper on theoretical thermodynamic constraints all you want. Let's assume for argument sake that you are right ... there is absolutely no biogenic oil anywhere on the planet ... you still have to come up with a mechanism for getting hydrocarbons into oil shale. You've postulated above what those are ... fine ... now test those hypotheses with data and information.

Re Bakken ... you're right, the Bakken does have a dolomite member in some areas that is the reservoir target (dolomitization creates porosity) ... but, the vast majority of the 'continuous' resources (see USGS for defnitions) is thought to be in the shale itself. As I said in previous comment, this is quite different from the Green River, as it is still in the subsurface and can be drilled (with the help of completion techniques such as frac'ing, as you mention).

Anaconda said...

To BrianR: You are right, of course, about going out and making observations and collecting data in the field.

Being an "armchair" analyst, and synthesizing data, then turning around and attempting to make persuasive arguments is not the same as being a field scientist or even a scientist, for that matter; but at least I'm bringing to bear critical thought on the problem.

That's a start.

You say: "In fact, the vast majority of shales are not oil shale/shale oil ... point being?"

As I said: "This would lead to suggest that shale oil deposits are the result of specific and limited conditions."

To expand on this observation: Why do the majority of shales form without hydrocarbons?

What is unique about the Greenriver formation and the other shale oil formations of the world?

My answer to what is unique and limited, along with bio-contaminants and sediment, is that heavy hydrocarbons leached into the lakes with the sediments or emanated from seeps in the lakes.

This would be a relatively unique set of physical circumstances, which is confirmed by inference from the fact that there are a limited number of shale oil formations around the world in relation to "common shale," without hydrocarbons.

This is also significant because it explains the "shale oil phenomena" without violating Coste's permeability argument, as stated in, Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers: Rock Disturbances Theory Of Petroleum Emanations (1914), available by direct link under Eugene Coste.

Coste's impermeability thesis of "roof rock," which excludes "fossil" theory's "source rock" hypothesis as a possibility, is preserved because the hydrocarbons are "trapped" within the impermeable shale as it forms; in other words, the hydrocarbons are a congenital component of the "shale oil."

This also explains why the hydrocarbons are still "locked in" the shale.

You say, "I don't understand why the presence of tectonic features definitively demonstrates the origin of oil. Yes, of course, the Rocky Mtn region has faults ... faults are everywhere, the crust has a structure. Citing the presence of crustal structures does not demonstrate an abiogenic origin for hydrocarbons."

The correlation between tectonic faults and the world's oil fields is well established. See links, Houston Geological Society: Tectonic Setting of the World's Giant Oil and Gas Fields, and Tectonic Setting of the World's Giant Oil and Gas Fields, under Continental Rifts.

This is a strong piece of evidence, not conclusive, perhaps, but a strong link in the abiotic chain of evidence. Tectonic faults provide the conduit for abiotic oil to travel to the surface. Also, "fossil" theory doesn't offer, in my opinion, a compelling reason for the association of petroleum with tectonic faults, certainly not in the copious amounts of oil that are correlated to tectonic faults.

The more active the Tectonic fault, generally, the larger the oil fields (there are exceptions).

Yes, Yellowstone itself, is younger than the Greenriver Formation, but it certainly suggests that a volcanic hotspot of some sort probably was there long before the actual Yellowstone caldera formed. That seems like a reasonable deduction.

You say: "[B]ut, the vast majority of the 'continuous' resources (see USGS for defnitions) is thought to be in the shale itself."

This USGA's contention, I disagree with. I believe their misconception is due to their "fossil" theory bias, which believes in the mistaken idea of so-called "source rock" and additionally misunderstands the mechanism for how the dolomite is present in the formation. I'm convinced the dolomite is present in the Bakken formation as an associate of the petroleum and arrived at the same time as the petroleum as the result of solfataric action, slightly similar to the presence of dolomite at the Spindletop salt dome.

It must be said, I would not have come to these conclusions, or maybe better, this hypothesis of shale oil, without being challenged by your questions and follow up.

That is how science advances.

Science does not move forward by lock step "group think."

I will keep in mind your admonition to get into the field to test hypotheses.

Then I would be a real scientist.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "What is unique about the Greenriver formation and the other shale oil formations of the world?"

The interpretation is that organic material is preserved in an anoxic environment. This material would not have been preserved and thus would not accumulated in oxic conditions. Of course, you don't buy any of that ... so I don't need to go further.

You say: "Also, "fossil" theory doesn't offer, in my opinion, a compelling reason for the association of petroleum with tectonic faults, certainly not in the copious amounts of oil that are correlated to tectonic faults."

Structural traps have been and continue to be primary targets for petroleum. The petroleum industry has known this as long as people mapped out anticlines from surface topography over 100 years ago. Compressional tectonic regimes create folds and faults that are perfect for migration and trapping. The "conventional" community has been applying this for decades ... yes, faults can act as migration pathways as well as seals. Extensional regimes (i.e., normal faults) can also act to trap petroleum. The biggest accumulations on Earth are in structural traps - this has been known. Regardless, the structural configuration is the trap and potentially a migration pathway ... how does this discriminate between the depth at which the oil was generated?

You say: "The more active the Tectonic fault, generally, the larger the oil fields (there are exceptions)."

If that were the case, the Earth's subduction zones rimming the Pacific, arguably the most active large-scale fault systems on the planet, would be rich with hydrocarbons. Every good theory as predictive value ... would you then propose to a group of investors to explore for petroleum along the Chile trench, for example? Many of the Earth's biggest petroleum systems are in fact on passive margins (i.e., old rifted margins), such as the Atlantic coasts of North and South America and Africa (e.g., Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, Niger delta, Congo, etc.). For these systems, the spreading ridge (i.e., the active tectonic fault) is now 1000s of km in the middle of the Atlantic. The structural activity in recent geologic time is within the thick sedimentary columns (e.g., growth faulting).

You say: "Yes, Yellowstone itself, is younger than the Greenriver Formation, but it certainly suggests that a volcanic hotspot of some sort probably was there long before the actual Yellowstone caldera formed. That seems like a reasonable deduction."

A reasonable possibility, but not a deduction ... this is testable. Look for volcanic rocks of that age. If the hydrocarbon material was erupted from these volcanoes and then settled into the lakes as you propose, then I would expect regular volcanic ashes to be preserved as well (at least a few). Volcanic ashes can be dated ... this is easily testable. You cannot simply make a conclusion because it's reasonable.

You say: "I'm convinced the dolomite is present in the Bakken formation as an associate of the petroleum and arrived at the same time as the petroleum..."

So, the dolomite migrated into the Bakken Fm long after deposition of the Bakken? Was it in solution and then precipitated out? The Middle Bakken, which has the silty dolomitic member, is a mappable stratigraphic horizon. I don't understand how this could work.

Thanks for the discussion ... I'm challenging this because it's interesting.

Anaconda said...

To BrianR:

As I said: "Reviewing the work of J.F. Kenney of Gas Resources, available by direct link on this website would be helpful to you to understand why I reject "fossil" theory entirely."

You say: "You can keep citing the single paper on theoretical thermodynamic constraints all you want."

Not one paper, and if you had reviewed the website you would know that, but rather a whole series of papers, covering the whole sprectrum of issues involving Abiotic theory.

Mr. Kenney is the leading Abiotic geologist in the United States -- that's right geologist.

Again, I suggest you review the website from laboratory experimental work to field observation. The whole nine yards. If you have a problem with any issue -- I'll be grad to throw in my two cents worth.

You say: "Of course, you don't buy any of that ... so I don't need to go further."

Right!

But you can go further: Please provide chemical equations that reflect the chemical reactions for both diagenesis and catagenesis. Make sure both chemical equations conform to all applicable chemical and physical laws and constraints.

You say: "Structural traps have been and continue to be primary targets for petroleum..."

Yes, but it's the amounts of oil: The oil field Ghawar in Saudi Arabia has produced a 19 mile cube of oil, that's three times as high as commercial jets fly, about 100,000 feet. This well has been producing for over 50 years.

How did all that oil concentrate at that spot if, the only reason tectonic faults matter is because they create, "Structural traps have been and continue to be primary targets for petroleum..."


You say: "[H]ow does this discriminate between the depth at which the oil was generated?"

There have been a number of oil wells drilled in the Gulf of Mexico that are over 20,000 feet below the the sea-floor, beyond the 15,000 foot "oil window," which "fossil" theory claims oil can't form beyond and will breakdwon into methane because of the heat.

These wells produce oil.

One oil well off Sakhalin Island in Siberia has been drilled down to 37,000 feet deep and produces oil.

You say: "If that were the case, the Earth's subduction zones rimming the Pacific, arguably the most active large-scale fault systems on the planet, would be rich with hydrocarbons. Every good theory as predictive value ... would you then propose to a group of investors to explore for petroleum along the Chile trench..."

I agree, but the Pacific hasn't been well explored, and the Chilean Trench would not be the first place I'd look: I'd look off the California and Oregon coasts.

But that's over my pay scale.

You say: "Many of the Earth's biggest petroleum systems are in fact on passive margins (i.e., old rifted margins), such as the Atlantic coasts of North and South America and Africa (e.g., Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, Niger delta, Congo, etc.). For these systems, the spreading ridge (i.e., the active tectonic fault) is now 1000s of km in the middle of the Atlantic. The structural activity in recent geologic time is within the thick sedimentary columns (e.g., growth faulting)."

Agreed!!

Please see the most recent post, here, on Oil Is Mastery, regarding Petrobras oil stock going up because of oil finds on the Atlantic margin -- as you describe.

You say: "If the hydrocarbon material was erupted from these volcanoes and then settled into the lakes as you propose..."

No! That hypothesis was discarded after you shredded it.

My working hypothesis is that leaching by rain from tar pits, tar seeps, or underwater seeps of heavy oil, or outcroppings of bitumen or coal within the raparian reach of that lake's basin is the cause.

This does not require it was "erupted from these volcanoes" as commonly understood and you implied. Please don't mistate my theory. That's unprofessional.

So no, there do not have to be "ashes" as you stated.

You say: "Was it in solution and then precipitated out?"

I'm not completely sure, it could have been in solution or possibly even still molten. Whatever the case tremendous heat and pressure was required to cause dolomite's and oil's expulsion into the trapping structure.

Thanks for the discussion. Yes, it was stimulating and challenging, which makes for good Socratic Dialogue.

Thanks, again.

OilIsMastery said...

Brian: Petroleum has been found in all strata from archaean to quaternary; therefore whatever sedimentary rocks petroleum is incidentally found in is irrelevant.

You say, "Biogenic oil concepts have been applied and are still being applied to explore for and produce oil."

Biogenic theory has been an absolute failure. In the absense of seismic data, the success rate of biogenic petroleum theorists is 1 sucessful oilwell for every 28 dry holes. Furthermore just about every oil company in the world drills past the mythological biogenic "oil window" at 15,000 feet TVD.

You say, "These companies are after profit and increasing shareholder value ... they will use and apply the concepts that help them with that goal."

That must be why the majors spend more money on share repurchases and dividends than they do on exploration and production.

BrianR said...

The topic of the last several comments between me and Anaconda was about the origin of oil shale w/in the context of abiotic theory.
As I said above, for the sake of this specific discussion, I will accept abiotic theory ... we were then talking about the mechanism for impregnating the shale with hydrocarbons. As proposed by Anaconda, the rain leaches the hydrocarbons out of tar pits, oil seeps, and other surface or near-surface heavy-oil accumulations and then it flows into the lake via rivers/streams. At this point, the hydrocarbons settle out onto the lake bottom? The more hydrocarbon-rich parts of the Green River Fm are in the middle of the lakes ... I would expect the hydrocarbons to be deposited near the shoreline (e.g., in deltas that form where the rivers meet the lake). I don't know ... I'd like to explore this idea some more. Are there modern analogs to this heavy-oil/tar pit leaching process?

I'm sorry ... I didn't realize the volcano idea was thrown out ... I thought we were still talking about a Yellowstone-like hot spot in the last comment. I won't bring that up again.

Quantum_Flux said...

I wonder if tar-pit oils could migrate through confined groundwater aquifers and then slowly be released through a fissure or duct somewhere out in the ocean.

Anaconda said...

To Brian:
I appreciate your staying with the topic because as your original question implied and my initial response directly acknowledged, shale oil is the "Abiotic Problem." In that, up till now, I have never seen an abiotic explanation for "shale oil."

So, it's important to clarify and explain the finer points of what maybe the first working hypothesis that explains shale oil from an abiotic perspective.

You say: "At this point, the hydrocarbons settle out onto the lake bottom? The more hydrocarbon-rich parts of the Green River Fm are in the middle of the lakes ... I would expect the hydrocarbons to be deposited near the shoreline (e.g., in deltas that form where the rivers meet the lake). I don't know ..."

I appreciate your additional information about the location of hydrocarbon rich parts of the lakes.

While heavy hydrocarbons are heavier than water and therfore sink to the bottom, the action is not dramatic like gold or silver, rather, it is akin to a "solution" where the sinking happens over an extended period of time and the heavy hydrocarbons work their way, or "settle" to the lowest point of the lake, which would typically be in the middle of the lake.

Your additional information lends credence to my hypothesis of heavy hydrocarbons leaching into the lake.

You ask: "Are there modern analogs to this heavy-oil/tar pit leaching process?"

I don't know -- again, as you have previously correctly pointed out, this could be subject to testing by observation. The subject lake would need to have tar pits, ect. within its raparian watershed.

There could be examples that haven't been documented, or since tar pits, ect., at present are uncommon there may be no readily studied examples.

But as you previously pointed out, while the scientist can look for examples,the fact that there are no apparent examples, today, doesn't mean this phenomenon didn't happen in the past.

You say: "I didn't realize the volcano idea was thrown out ... I thought we were still talking about a Yellowstone-like hot spot in the last comment. I won't bring that up again."

Please, let's be careful, the point of mentioning Yellowstone and 'volcanic' activity is because according to general abiotic theory, hydrocarbons are associated with 'volcanic' activity. So, the reason for including "a Yellowstone-like hot spot" in the current discussion is that tar pits, ect., would be more likely present in the vacinity of a hotspot.

In the strictest sense, according to Abiotic theory, tar pits, heavy oil seeps, are a kind of 'solfataric' activity, which is on the volcanic spectrum; emanations from tarpits, ect., are a type of non-explosive volcanic activity -- but this can sidetrack the discussion because in the popular imagination, "eruptions" and "volcanoes" conger images of Mt. Saint Helens erupting.

That image only serves as a distraction in this discussion.

We are talking about non-explosive 'solfataric" activity.

This brings up a salient point: I understand that for purposes of discussion only, you are "accepting" the validity of Abiotic theory ; and, therefore, don't want to get off into a general discussion of Abiotic theory -- that is perfectly acceptable -- but in discussing a specific aspect of any theory, general principles of that theory will be included and need to be understood.

Or it makes the discussion difficult.

So, please feel free to bring up any concept, aspect, or general issue you feel needs clarification.

My concern was that you were misstating my "leaching" hypothesis by talking about erupting volcanoes and ash fallout.

Obviously, when talking about a new theory -- misstating the theory only serves to garble the theory and discussion for later readers.

Thank you for an opportunity to clarify my concerns.

And, again, also, to give a response to your additional information about heavy hydrocarbons settling in the deepest portion of the lakes.

That was an important corollary to the heavy hydrocarbon "leaching" hypothesis.

-----------------------

Quantum_Flux:

You ask: "I wonder if tar-pit oils could migrate through confined groundwater aquifers and then slowly be released through a fissure or duct somewhere out in the ocean[?]"

That seems entirely possible.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "I understand that for purposes of discussion only, you are "accepting" the validity of Abiotic theory ; and, therefore, don't want to get off into a general discussion of Abiotic theory -- that is perfectly acceptable -- but in discussing a specific aspect of any theory, general principles of that theory will be included and need to be understood."

Of course, and that is understandable. I am coming at this from a geologic perspective, since that is my background, so discussing and exploring these hypotheses w/in the greater context of abiotic ideas, I think, is a valuable endeavor. Now on to some details.

Anaconda says: "While heavy hydrocarbons are heavier than water and therfore sink to the bottom, the action is not dramatic like gold or silver, rather, it is akin to a "solution" where the sinking happens over an extended period of time and the heavy hydrocarbons work their way, or "settle" to the lowest point of the lake, which would typically be in the middle of the lake."

First, examples of modern natural oil seeps show that the heavy oil or tar tends to concentrate into agglomerations ('lumps' or 'balls') when interacting with water. According to a study of a spill in Lake Wabamun (near Edmonton Alberta; Google 'density behavior heavy oil freshwater' and it comes up first), the heavy oil/tar behaved in a variety of ways w/r/t density relationships - sometimes the agglomerations sank, sometimes they didn't. This is from a spill and not natural, so that is certainly a caveat to consider. But, it at least gives us some data regarding density relationships.

Second, if the heavy oil or tar coalesces into centimetric-scale agglomerations when interacting with water, how would it then be distributed so evenly on the lake bottom? I would expect much more spatial variability (at cm to m scales) in hydrocarbon richness along one bed preserved in the rocks.

Third, if the hydrocarbons are being delivered to the lake via rivers, how do they get to the middle of the lake? What is the transport mechanism? These lakes were big (think Great Lakes size) ... if the river empties into the lake, a delta could develop along the shore and I would expect the heavy oil/tar to accumulate there. How would the hydrocarbons be delivered to the deeper middle part of the lake (where no coarse-grained material is observed)?

Anaconda says: "So, the reason for including "a Yellowstone-like hot spot" in the current discussion is that tar pits, ect., would be more likely present in the vacinity of a hotspot."

I understand ... there was a miscommunciation. My bringing up the ashes was not that the volcanic fall-out contained the hydrocarbons, but that the presence of volcanic ashes preserved in the lake sediments would show that volcanic activity was concurrent with deposition in the lake, that's all.

But, then I see you've clarified that these volcanic processes are not explosive. Is that correct? Are none of the volcanic processes explosive, or just the processes associated with bringing hydrocarbons to the surface?

To QuantumFluxes question about subsurface aquifers ... groundwater does indeed 'exchange' with seawater through the continental slope, that has been studied. Whether or not some of those examples contain hydrocarbons as well, I don't know ... something to look up.

Anaconda said...

To Brian:
I have reviewed the study you supplied.

Of course, this is an example of a 'man made' spill and not an "example of modern 'natural' oil seeps."

The differences are significant:

The spill occurred right into the lake: "The oil quickly entered the lake." My hypothesis suggests that the oil 'leached' into the lakes over time, which, depending on the distance travelled, and the terrestrial medium through which filtering took place, either, in the ground or along the surface, it would tend to atomize the oil, thus the oil would not be entering the lake in a viscous mass like your man made "spill" study.

How the ultra-heavy hydrocarbons enter the lakes is extremely significant.

This idea needs expansion; the 'leaching' process tends to filter and seperate the oil. The oil is not leaching into the lakes in the same fashion as "tank cars spilling their contents."

Admittedly, I don't know what rate the ultra-heavy oil (C215H330) was 'leaching' into the lakes, but I suggest accepting my hypothesis as true, you could measure the concentration of hydrocarbons in the sedimental "shale oil" and the amount of sediment entering the lakes over a period of time, and on that basis get an estimate of the concentrations of ultra-heavy hydrocarbons entering the lakes over time, to reflect the concentrations actually observed in the "shale oil."

My suspicion is that the required amount of ultra-heavy oil leaching into the lakes would not be particularly high or dramatic.

But acutally it would be well within the parameters consistent with ultra-heavy hydrocarbons leaching into the lakes over long stretches of time in an amount consistent with atomized ultra-heavy hydrocarbons.

In the study, the oil is characterized as "heavy oil," but actually has a neutral buoyancy on the water, and also is "refined" oil and not natural heavy crude oil. This means the oil in the study, while called 'heavy oil' is not the ultra-heavy C215H330 chemical structure we are discussing in my hypothesis.

And more important: What's actually the constituant hydorcarbons of the "shale oil" in question.

The time element is substantial. The "leaching" mechanism of my hypothesis occurs over possibly thousands of years (if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years), but at least certainly hundreds of years, not over a few weeks span (the study didn't state the time period -- a signifcant flaw).

That difference in time scale can't be underestimated because the time variable has been shown repeatedly to affect chemical and physical interactions in the environment.

Concluding, this comparison and analogy has limited validity to my hypothesis -- characterizing the differences between the study and my hypothesis as a mere "caveat" that the study is about a 'man made' spill, downplays the distinctions in a way that is misleading.

Brain asks: "Second, if the heavy oil or tar coalesces into centimetric-scale agglomerations when interacting with water, how would it then be distributed so evenly on the lake bottom?"

As discussed above, I don't accept that study or your contention based on that study that the ultra-heavy hydrocarbons entered the lakes 'in mass', rather, the ultra-heavy hydrocarbons entered in a atomized fashion, which would facilitate the distribution pattern actually observed.

In a counter argument -- since organic detritus is much closer to the atomic weight of the water than the C215H330 hydrocarbons, therefore, organic detritus would tend to be distributed more evenly over the lake bottom and not concentrated in the deepest part of the lake as actually observed.

How do you answer that critque of the "organic detritus" model?

Brain asks: "Third, if the hydrocarbons are being delivered to the lake via rivers, how do they get to the middle of the lake? What is the transport mechanism?"

We are talking long periods of time. Fluid dynamics works its way over time. Heavy elements naturally seek the lowest point in the fluid column over time. The scale may be large (great lakes) but the principle remains constant -- physical laws being what they are; and given enough time, the heavier elements will seek the lowest point in the fluid column.

As has actually been observed in the "shale oil" sediment observed.

This is all as I stated before: "While heavy hydrocarbons are heavier than water and therfore sink to the bottom, the action is not dramatic like gold or silver, rather, it is akin to a "solution" where the sinking happens over an extended period of time and the heavy hydrocarbons work their way, or "settle" to the lowest point of the lake, which would typically be in the middle of the lake."

Perhaps, the concept that differences of scale don't effect the 'unchanging nature' of chemical and physical laws and the application, thereof, has not been emphasized in the "geological perspective."

Brian asks: "But, then I see you've clarified that these volcanic processes are not explosive. Is that correct? Are none of the volcanic processes explosive, or just the processes associated with bringing hydrocarbons to the surface?"

Obviously, some volcanic processes are explosive, some are not. The observations reveal hydrocarbons mostly travel to the surface as petroleum in non-explosive forms. But also hydrocarbons can be released in explosive 'volcanic' activity, in the form of methane gas, or the CH4 can be oxidized into carbon dioxide in the volcanic 'out-gassing' process because of the heat.

But it should be cautioned, that there are myriad conduital mechanisms for hydrocarbons to travel to the near surface or surface.

In final conclusion: The scientific principles and physical evidence is much more consistent with an abiotic mechanism for the formation of "shale oil".

Until, "fossil" theory has chemical equations representing the process of "diagenesis" that conform to chemical and physical laws and constraints; what "diagenesis" amounts to, is "made-up" words for a "made-up" process.

Brian: Yes, scrutinize my hypothsis, that is reasonable, proper, and according to the scientific method.

But failing turn the "spotlight of critical analysis" on "fossil" theory is failing to engage half the analysis in the overall Abiotic/Fossil theory debate.

It's time to turn your "spotlight" on "fossil" theory if you dare.

BrianR said...

Anaconda ... I guess I should've used a stronger word than "caveat" then. I wasn't claiming that that one little study was the end-all-be-all answer ... I was merely getting a handle on some density relationships.

You say: "We are talking long periods of time. Fluid dynamics works its way over time. Heavy elements naturally seek the lowest point in the fluid column over time."

The lowest point in the fluid column is not the same as the lowest point in the lake. If a particle, whatever it is, settles to the bottom of the lake, somewhat close to the shore, but away from current action ... now it's on the bottom; how does it get transported to the middle of the lake 50 km away in water that is slightly deeper?

"...given enough time, the heavier elements will seek the lowest point in the fluid column."

So, they will be transported along the bottom of the lake to the deepest part over time? What's the transport mechanism once the particle is on the bottom? I apologize if I'm not understanding your explanation ... it is sometimes hard in comment threads like this.

You say: "I don't accept that ... the ultra-heavy hydrocarbons entered the lakes 'in mass', rather, the ultra-heavy hydrocarbons entered in a atomized fashion, which would facilitate the distribution pattern actually observed."

So, rain leaches the hydrocarbons out at the atomic level, they are then transported in freshwater via rivers/streams and other runoff, still within a solution at the atomic level, correct? Interesting idea ... I think it could be testable ... would you expect that if one were to analyze the chemistry of that freshwater it would contain measurable traces? Potentially, one could analyze the water chemistry in rivers downstream of natural seeps (that have been thought to be around for many thousands of years) and see what they find. Making sure to study a natural seep would be an important part of the experimental design (to get away from the problem of the spill example I pointed to). Or, perhaps you hypothesize that the concentration might be so low as it's undetectable (takes very long time to accumulate). Either way, some data would address the problem. In fact, I bet that data exists somewhere ... you'd have to do some digging around to find it. As one of my first mentors said "your first field site should be the library". Could be worth looking into anyway.

You say: "That difference in time scale can't be underestimated because the time variable has been shown repeatedly to affect chemical and physical interactions in the environment."

Indeed.

You say: "But it should be cautioned, that there are myriad conduital mechanisms for hydrocarbons to travel to the near surface or surface."

Fine. I'd like to hear about those different mechanisms - some sort of classification scheme. How they differ, whether or not one would expect different kinds of hydrocarbons is different conduit types, and so on. I'm eager to learn.

You don't accept biogenic theory from the start, which is fine, so you don't bother to explore subsequent ideas and can't accept the rest of it. That's fine, you've made that very clear in almost every comment you've made. Biogenic concepts do, however, take it to the next level and postulate details about migration pathways, timing, maturation, and so on ... you have concluded it's not valid to explore those ideas, fair enough.

But, what I'm doing here, and I'll say it again, for the sake of discussion, I'm accepting the chemical/thermodynamic foundation of abiotic oil generation. Now, I am simply trying to extend this and test it with the oil shale problem in this thread (we can explore other testable parts of the concepts later). Why is it necessary for me to explain biogenic theory within this context? You don't accept it on first principles and are, from what I can gather, unmoveable on that. Why would you ask me to explain or defend it? So, you can turn around and say 'not true! prove it!' ... it's a distraction away from rigorously testing your theory. Maybe I'm misreading your writing, but you seem a bit defensive, I'm not attacking you personally ... just testing the ideas.

Anaconda said...

To Brian:

Brian asks: "If a particle, whatever it is, settles to the bottom of the lake, somewhat close to the shore, but away from current action ... now it's on the bottom; how does it get transported to the middle of the lake 50 km away in water that is slightly deeper?"

Let's focus specifically on the following phrase: "...settles to the bottom of the lake, somewhat close to the shore, but away from current action ..."

First, "current action" is one action, but wave action is actually accentuated near shore, as an anology when ocean waves hit a "reef" and correspondingly grow bigger -- think "pipeline" on the North shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

So everytime random or whatever action operates on the ultra-heavy hydrocarbons, if that action pushes the molecule out to deeper water it will go, but the molecule will be resistent to move upslope -- against gravity, so it will move less. Repeat that process along with general fluid dynamics over an extended period of time and the ultra-heavy hydrocarbons will travel toward the deepest point of the lake.

Brian asks: "What's the transport mechanism[?]"

As you suggest "current action" along with wave action," the same action that would "act" on the organic detritus in the "fossil" theory. So, even "fossil" theory accepts the "mechanism" I propose for ultra-heavy hydrocarbons.

It should be noted that this process is not absolute, as there is still hydrocarbons toward the shallower shore of the lake, simply in less concentration.

Which, as I stated above is the same effect as with the organic detritus model of "fossil" theory.

Brian asks: "...would you expect that if one were to analyze the chemistry of that freshwater it would contain measurable traces?

Yes, there would have to be measurable traces or there would be no accumulation in the lake.

Brian says: "[P]erhaps you hypothesize that the concentration might be so low as it's undetectable."

No, trace amounts can detected down to the parts per billion, so ultra-heavy hydrocarbons would be detectable.

Brian says: "Fine. I'd like to hear about those different mechanisms - some sort of classification scheme. How they differ, whether or not one would expect different kinds of hydrocarbons is different conduit types, and so on."

I appreciate your interest. Brian says: "As one of my first mentors said 'your first field site should be the library'." The library is here, on the Oil Is Mastery website. This is the most complete Abiotic Theory website in the world -- OilIsMastery has done an outstanding job compiling documentation on Abiotic Theory.

As to your kindly request: It's a good one. But I would prefer to do it in another comment thread. But it should be done and will be done in the future.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Brian says: "Biogenic concepts do, however, take it to the next level and postulate details about migration pathways, timing, maturation, and so on ... you have concluded it's not valid to explore those ideas, fair enough."

"Maturation" is a made-up concept, particular to "fossil" theory; so, no, that's a step "backwards" into superstition, not "to the next level..."

"[T]iming..." Please explain?

"[M]igration pathways..." There is some overlap between the two "schools" in this regard, but you would have to be specific about what you meant before I could comment one way or the other.

I don't have a problem with your explanations of "fossil" theory, to give context to your questions and assertions, but at the same time, you will have to pardon me for "needling" you on the gaps and inconsistencies of "fossil" theory.

Particularly, when I'm of the opinion that the 'reason' you haven't answered some of my "needling" is because "fossil" theory has no effective answer to give on that aspect or question raised.

If this bothers you, I am sorry.

For I do enjoy the dialogue and hope it is enlightening to you and other readers.

Socratic Dialogue is an important method or "tool" for revealing the truth in the overall scientific method.

I look forward to laying out a comment that does "systematize" Abiotic Theory.

It can be done, so will be done.

Thanks again.

Have a happy Independence Day.

BrianR said...

Anaconda says: "Yes, there would have to be measurable traces or there would be no accumulation in the lake."

This is a research opportunity! As I said above, my guess is that one could sift through existing data and address this. You could start with this online database: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/qw

You can go into the database of field samples and narrow it down to lat-long, you could potentially find information for creeks/streams that are near natural seeps. You'd have to know where those are, of course, but you could find it out.

Anaconda says: "The library is here, on the Oil Is Mastery website. This is the most complete Abiotic Theory website in the world"

Well, I'm glad I know where to come. I've looked at some of the stuff, but not every single link. OilIsMastery, would you agree that your site is the most complete abiotic theory website in the world?

Anaconda says: "Particularly, when I'm of the opinion that the 'reason' you haven't answered some of my "needling" is because "fossil" theory has no effective answer to give on that aspect or question raised. If this bothers you, I am sorry."

No, doesn't really bother me ... you don't accept biogenic concepts on first principles so discussing the rest of it is obviously a waste of our time (e.g., you referring to it as 'superstition'). That's okay. I've never outright rejected abiotic concepts (skepticism is not rejection) - go back to the 'methane zit' thread on my blog, search the rest of my blog, search my published articles/abstracts - I don't study this, it's not my field.

So, I will accept the chemical, physical, and thermodynamical foundation of abiotic oil. Given that acceptance, what's next? What does it mean? And not implications for economics/society, but what does it mean for understanding the subsurface of the Earth? At what depths in the mantle does this occur? Is it the same depth everywhere? Why or why not? What happens in subduction zones? How does the descending oceanic slab affect the chemical reactions of this process? Since most oil (so far) has been found higher up, how does the migration into lower temps/pressures affect the chemistry? Does it? Do 'hot spots' tap into this stuff? Would one expect the chemistry to be different? And so on ... I'm not asking you to answer all that in one comment obviously, that was off the top of my head. But, for abiotic theory to move forward from first principles, it needs to develop a comprehensive and, as you say, systematic framework that has predictive value.

Anaconda says: "I look forward to laying out a comment that does "systematize" Abiotic Theory. It can be done, so will be done."

One comment would NEVER be able to address everything sufficiently. This is why textbooks on scientific concepts end up being written. I'm not asking you to write a textbook, but perhaps a series of posts that would be analogous to 'chapters' in a text. I really think you ought to start your own blog ... you have a blogger account, it literally takes about 5 minutes. Then you could link back to here and start to build a network of blogs and bloggers tackling the scientific and technical aspects of this. Just a thought.

Off the top of my head, I could envision several posts addressing: (1) chemical/physical/thermodynamical foundation and fundamental constraints, (2) relationship of abiotic oil generation to mantle structure, (3) relationship of abiotic oil migration to asthenosphere and crust, (4) relationship of abiotic oil migration and expulsion to plate tectonic configuration, (5) relationship of abiotic oil generation to paleogeography and paleo-tectonic framework, (6) spatial variability in hydrocarbon chemistry and its relationship to mantle generation, and so on, and so on ... stuff like that. You wouldn't need to spend any time debunking biogenic concepts since it is impossible within this framework. You wouldn't need to even mention it in these posts ... this has been done.

An effort like this can certainly take years of research ... but it seems like it's ready to do it. I look forward to following it.

Happy Fourth.

BrianR said...

one more note ... I have a bit of traveling coming up in a few days and will be away from a computer ... perhaps we can continue to discuss on a different thread later

Anaconda said...

To Brian:
Your comment is constructive; I am impressed.

You are right to be sceptical, that is the proper perspective for any scientist. Yet, keeping an open mind is also the proper stance for a scientist.

The quest is to have the appropriate balance between the two competing dynamics.

Brian, I looked high and low to find one website devoted to Abiotic Theory on an ongoing basis, sure there were a lot of blogs that had a post or two on abiotic oil, but only this website was devoted to Abiotic Theory.

And OilIsMastery has built the website over time to include many links to the material that was available on the web, and some that was not available until he created the availability.

The Oil Is Mastery link to the Eugene Coste material is unique and Coste's work is a foundation of Abiotic theory.

Jack F. Kenney is the modern leader of Abiotic Theory in the United States. Kenney has the pure science of theoretical modelling and also field reports from Russian oil fields that were prospected and developed using Abiotic Principles.

And, OilIsMastery has demonstrated great patience when I have gone over the top on a creative "binge."

Also, his connection to the financial community is the key to convincing the world of the reality of Abiotic Oil.

"Money talks, bullshit walks."

Money is backing Abiotic Theory as I type. Investors want to "know the product" and why they should be confident they will get a "return on their Dollar."

I'm sorry to say, but the scientists in the geological community have failed to appreciate the evidence.

And have, by and large, failed their mission.

You are a courageous exception.

So it's time to turn to the financial community to force the issue.

The financial community is not constrained by 'dogma' and they are a practical bunch. They know how to get the job done.

Also, oil geologists are servants -- they will open their eyes when their employers demand it.

Now, their employers are demanding the best science -- that's exactly what Abiotic Theory is -- the best current science available on petroleum.

My point is to give credit to OilIsMastery for his open mind and commitment to following the evidence wherever it leads.

That is the highest compliment one can give to philosophers and scientists, alike, who on the 'highest' plane are kindred souls:

Searchers for the truth of the world.

Brian says: "[Y]ou don't accept biogenic concepts on first principles so discussing the rest of it is obviously a waste of our time."

No, because a Socratic Dialogue is a two way street. It is just as important to test "fossil" theory ideas -- if you can't defend the ideas -- that should tell you something.

And, if you don't want to defend "fossil" theory, maybe, just maybe, that should tell you something, too.

I also should tell you, I have explored "fossil" theory, in depth.

I know "fossil" theory, almost as well as Abiotic Theory.

Why?

That's easy; you have to understand the other side.

And, besides, I was like you -- I believed "fossil" theory!

But I have examined the science and as a result discarded "fossil" theory as a viable explanation for oil's origin.

Not because I never explored "fossil" theory.

But because I did explore "fossil" theory and found it wanting.

Brian states: "I don't study this, it's not my field."

Okay. I understand and I appreciate that. You study sedimentary geology -- but don't the two fields overlap?

Anyway, you are to be commended for exploring this subject.

I respect your commitment to the scientific method.

You are right about the structure you suggest for future comments, and I appreciate your suggestions.

Spoken like a true gentlemen.

Thank you.

Cam Snow said...

Anaconda - How many exposed tar pits do you know of? I can only think of the Trinidad and La Brea examples off the top of my head - they are certainly quite rare.

However, there are certainly quite a number of hydrocarbon bearing shale formations. Examples include the Green River, Bakken, Marcellus, Barnett, Antrim, Fayeteville, Floyd, Conesauga, New Albany, Pearsall, Woodford, Utica, and Muskwa shales.

These shales contain both oil and gas - one piece of evidence that I would suggest shows that these are self-sourced (biogenic oil) systems, is that we see the oil at shallower stratigraphic levels than the gas. This is caused by teh organic material cracking at different temperatures (oil being generated at shallower depths, and gas at deeper depths). Can you explain this with your tarpit theory?

Also, the amount of oil found in these basins is well over 2-3 trillon barrels, and the gas is probably over a 1000-2000 trillion cubic feet - it does not seem possible to get this much into these shales through "leaching" processes.

Would you advocate that there were an abundance of tar pits during this time? If so, why don't we have the 100's to 1000's of large tar pits scattered around the US now?

Cam Snow said...

The paper that you cite which discusses the second principle of thermodynamics doesn't seem to account for principle that biogenic oil forms over several thousands of years during slow heating of temperatures up to 275 F. This heating process is what drives cracking. Biogenic oil theorists do not propose a "spontaneous reversal" as the paper would have you believe.

It seems to be using a round about way of saying that you can't unmix milk and coffee, therefor you can't turn dead critters into hydrocarbons.

Cam Snow said...

One final comment - I have worked some on the serpentinite mounds in central Texas. The oil in those systems is sourced from the adjacent sediments.

The reason the oil is produced from the serpentinite and volcanic formations is because the fractures in these systems provide high permeability pathways, while the source rock is relatively low permeability. This is why you drill into the serpentinite and volcanic rocks - better economics.

However, these types of fields are definitely the exception.

BrianR said...

Cam ... thanks for your comments ... I think this thread has died however. I, too, am skeptical of the tar-pit-leaching mechanism.

Basically it needs data to back it up. Until then, it's speculation (admittedly creative).

The conclusion from this thread is that abiotic theory cannot adequately explain the occurrence of oil shale.

Anaconda said...

To Doctor Snow:
Your information is welcome.

As to BrianR, all I can say is it's apparent you are poking your head out from under Dr. Snow's skirt.

BrianR states: "The conclusion from this thread is that abiotic theory cannot adequately explain the occurrence of oil shale."

That's your "conclusion" and rather presumptious, too, considering all the critques you offered up were answered and reasoned for the benefit of you and other readers alike.

While, any critiques of "fossil" theory directed your way were repeatedly ignored.

You're not in much of a postition to offer sweeping judgments.

Anaconda said...

To Dr. Snow:
I have had time to research and what a field day.

Dr. Snow challenged my contentions in a series of comments, here are my responses.

Dr.Snow states: "Anaconda - How many exposed tar pits do you know of? I can only think of the Trinidad and La Brea examples off the top of my head - they are certainly quite rare."

Tar lakes or pits are relatively rare, but oil seeps are common in different parts of the world.

The State of California, Depart. of Conservation on a website states: "Several hundred oil and gas seeps have been found in 28 counties throughout California."

The seeps are mixtures of crude oil, asphaltum (tar), natural gas, and water.

Yes, that's right, the seeps are almost entirely heavy oil -- and so are almost all seeps around the world.

More on California oil seeps:

Minerals Management Service, Pacific OCS Region website states:
"Oil seeps naturally all along the coast of California, notably in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point.

Tar seeps found in 100-200 feet of water offshore Point Conception exhibit heavy oil and little gas.

Alaska has numerous heavy oil seeps on the North Slope of Alaska as well.

Here is a quote that demonstrates oil seeps happen around the world and can effect lakes:

H Heavy oils: A worldwide overview:

"For example,. so many tar seeps were common around the Dead Sea, that. it had an alternative name associated with heavy oil. From Smith (1935): ..."

So oil seeps are common around the world in oil bearing regions -- so much for your first objection.

Here's more:
United States Geol. Sur. states:
"Native peoples used the tar-like material (called asphaltum) from oil seeps..."

"Oil prospectors first mined asphaltum by digging open pits where seep occured."

Dr. Snow states: "However, there are certainly quite a number of hydrocarbon bearing shale formations. Examples include the Green River, Bakken, Marcellus, Barnett, Antrim, Fayeteville, Floyd, Conesauga, New Albany, Pearsall, Woodford, Utica, and Muskwa shales.

Per Wikipedia:
3.1 Barnett Shale, Texas
3.2 Fayetteville Shale, Arkansas
3.3 Antrim Shale, Michigan
3.4 Upper Devonian Shales, Appalachian Basin
3.5 Floyd Shale, Alabama
3.6 Conesauga Shale, Alabama
3.7 New Albany Shale, Illinois Basin
3.8 Pearsall Shale, Maverick Basin
3.9 Woodford Shale, Oklahoma
4 Canada
4.1 Utica Shale, Quebec
4.2 Muskwa Shale, British Columbia

I include the notations because I find it curious that the list by Dr. Snow is almost identical to the one in Wikipedia, except for the "Green River," "Bakken," and Marcellus Snow listed.

So is that where a Ph.D. in geology goes for information these days: Wikipedia?

But Bakken and Green River aren't on the list because those are all "gas" shales listed in Wikipedia under: Shale gas.

Green River and Bakken are different. Bakken because it has light sweet crude oil, Green River because it doesn't have any production.

It should be noted that the "gas shales" vary between shale that is trapping gas "from below" and that where "cracking" operations in situ is releasing gas from -- you guessed it -- ultra-heavy hydrocarbons embedded in the shale.

Dr. Snow goes on to say: "These shales contain both oil and gas..."

No, Dr. Snow, I reviewed the material from Wikipedia and the ones you listed, other than Bakken, are gas only.

Snow states: "...[O]ne piece of evidence that I would suggest shows that these are self-sourced (biogenic oil) systems, is that we see the oil at shallower stratigraphic levels than the gas."

Again, I reviewed the material and it doesn't speak to deposits of oil, just gas.

Also, Snow doesn't understand the implication of his own "fossil" theory: If these are examples of "kerogen" shales they would not be producing gas unless they were over approximately 15,000 feet deep. There is no evidence to support the idea that these shales were ever that deep.

More likely, these shales trap natural gas as it rises from deep below and the "cracking" operations release gas from heavy hydrocarbons embedded in the shale as a sesult of the hypothesis I've described.

Here is Snow's central thesis: "This is caused by the organic material cracking at different temperatures (oil being generated at shallower depths, and gas at deeper depths).

In other words, the "oil window."

And the generating kitchen idea.

"Generating kitchen" sounds good -- people cooking food, adding ingredients and so forth.

But in a kitchen what is really happening is that heat is used to breakdown material -- destroying chemical bonds.

Organic detritus isn't built up by "cooking," rather, just the opposite happens.

Of course, Snow fails to explain how the heavy long chain hydrocarbons ever form in the first place for them to then "crack" into gas.

By the way, Dr. Snow, I accept your statements that 15,000 feet is an rough number -- but you and oil geologists still cling to the general concept of an "oil window."

And a "generating kitchen."

Which in reality are "made-up" words for "made-up" processes.

And the "oil window" concept itself is completely bogus.

Snow asks: "Can you explain this with your tarpit theory?"

Easy, the gas rises to the top of any trapping structure that is why these shales have gas in them.

Methane, "natural gas" rises from a number of geological structures, but it does need a "trapping structure" at the end to hold and concentrate the gas.

That's what primarily is happening with these "gas shales."

In no way, does it invalidate my theory for the Green River shale and how it became imbedded with ultra heavy hydrocarbons.

Snow states: "Also, the amount of oil found in these basins is well over 2-3 trillon barrels, and the gas is probably over a 1000-2000 trillion cubic feet - it does not seem possible to get this much into these shales through "leaching" processes."

One, you are conflating the oil and gas. They are two different animals -- oil is being "cracked" out of the shale, so is some gas, but most gas is being derived from gas rising "into" the formation from below. This is much more consistent with Abiotic Theory in general, and, again, in no way invalidates my "leaching" theory.

In a region, according to Abiotic Theory, that is producing heavy oil seeps, one can also expect gas because the crustal environment in general is a hydrocarbon destroyer. The near-surface of the Earth is a regime of methane creation and hydrocarbon destruction.

So, as I stated above, any oil region is going to be a natural gas region, too.

Snow states: "Would you advocate that there were an abundance of tar pits during this time? If so, why don't we have the 100's to 1000's of large tar pits scattered around the US now?"

As I've already demonstrated, today, there are heavy oil seeps in the hundreds in California alone, also on Alaska's North Slope.

It would not be surprising that an active oil region could have thousands of oil seeps.

And, yes, it's entirely reasonable for an area to have active petroleum seeps and mud volcanoes and other 'solfataric' activity in one geologic era and later for that area to "go extinct" and therefore, not have the number of seeps and other indicia of crustal activity it did in the past.

Remember, I've already established "heavy oil seeps" can be very common in oil bearing regions, as opposed to what you tried to pass off.

Also, remember, we are talking about huge spans of time. So, yes, if there are oil seeps around a region I would expect over time for them to leach down into lakes at the "bottom" of the raparian watershed.

Or seep directly into the lake.

Or leach through subterranean pathways into the lakes.

And it's spread out over large areas and shales that can be very thick. You have to literally "crack" tonnes of shale to get a barrel of oil.

So, while accurate in once sense, your numbers are misleading.

Yes, there could be enough heavy oil "leaching" into the sediments over thousands of years to create "shale oil."

"Kerogen" is another "made-up" word for a "make-believe" substance.

Dr. Snow, you are not to be at fault for your ignorance: You are simply parroting what you heard at "school."

Your professors are really to blame for you lack of knowledge.

BrainR is the real weak sister, here, for immediately, in essence, saying, "me too" to your ignorant statements.

Anaconda said...

To Dr. Snow:
In your next comment you stated:

"The paper that you cite which discusses the second principle of thermodynamics doesn't seem to account for principle that biogenic oil forms over several thousands of years during slow heating of temperatures up to 275 F. This heating process is what drives cracking. Biogenic oil theorists do not propose a "spontaneous reversal" as the paper would have you believe."

Let's focus on the phrase: "...principle that biogenic oil forms over several thousands of years during slow heating of temperatures up to 275 F. This heating process is what drives cracking."

Again, the above phrase is a rendition of the "generating kitchen" corollary of the "oil window."

The phrase is an assumption of what oil geologists think happens: A summary. But the summary offers zero proof that it actually does happen.

There is no proof.

Offer the proof that backs up that statement. And not a "geologists say" type offer.

Dr. Snow, do you understand what if means to offer proof as opposed to a summary of what you "think" happens? Do you know the difference between scientific proof that an activity occurs and an assumption or summary?

And, the phrase completely leaves out the so-called "diagenesis" part of the process. "Cracking" only happens after the orgainic detritus "builds up" into so-called kerogen.

But nowhere are there any laboratory experiments that confirm or support the idea that organic detritus can "build up" by way of "diagenesis" into the heavy atomic weight, long chain hydrocarbons.

275 F. temperatures will breakdown crude oil in low pressure crustal environments. I'll agree with that statement. But the shales you mentioned in your first comment never got to that temperture. And according to "fossil" theory would turn into oil rather than gas at the depth the shales are located in the stratigraphic column. But, remeber, there is no oil in the shales you are talking about.

Let's focus on this statement: "Biogenic oil theorists do not propose a "spontaneous reversal" as the paper would have you believe."

Yes, "fossil" theory does call for a "spontaneous reversal" to happen.

No matter how much time is given to the "process" there simply isn't enough heat or pressure in the crustal environment to cause organic detritus -- a low potential chemical energy molecule to convert to a high potential chemical energy molecule.

And if you had studied The Second Law of Thermodynamics and how it constrains chemical reactions in geology "school" you would know that.

Tell me, did you even study The Second Law of Thermodynamics and how it prevents "magical" conversions of low engergy substances to high energy substances?

I know you didn't because if you did, then you'd know biogenic oil is impossible.

"Competent physicists, chemists, chemical engineers and men knowledgeable of thermodynamics have known that natural petroleum does not evolve from biological material since the last quarter of the 19th century." -- Jack F. Kenney, 2002

-- Oil geologist and leading Abiotic theorist in the United States.

Finally, Snow states: "It seems to be using a round about way of saying that you can't unmix milk and coffee, therefor you can't turn dead critters into hydrocarbons."

No, what it says is that there simply isn't enough pressure and heat in the crustal environment to account for the required energy inputs neede to turn organic detritus into crude oil.

No matter how much time the organic detritus is allowed to "cook."

Remember, cooking, applying heat to a substance -- breaks down molecules, breaks chemical bonds.

That's the problem, geology "school" doesn't teach or require an understanding of high level chemical and physical reactions or the laws that constrain and govern them.

I guess it's understandable, because then all their "theories" would go "poof" and the "schools" would have to close.

But at least you were willing to articulate what you learned in "school," that counts for something.

BrianR, on the other hand, when asked a question, won't answer.

Anaconda said...

This is a quote from a source in the post.

"The magmas in both Central and South Texas were ultramafic and alkaline, suggesting that partial melting occurred at depths of about 40 miles (60 kilometers). The magma rose rapidly to the surface, probably in an extensional stress regime controlled by pre-Tertiary Balcones-Luling faults."

Focus on the following:

"...partial melting occurred at depths of about 40 miles (60 kilometers)."

Perfect for oil to rise from a depth where it could form according to Abiotic Theory.

Dr. Snow, your statement: "I have worked some on the serpentinite mounds in central Texas. The oil in those systems is sourced from the adjacent sediments."

How do you know? Did you look?

Somehow, I doubt the oil company you worked for wasted the money to drill a dry hole, just to find "residual oil."

But if they did, let's hear it.

My bet is that you're making an assumption, again.

That's the problem with "fossil" theory, it's nothing but a pack of unproven assumptions.

But you don't even know the difference.

BrianR, I'll say it again. At least Snow will articulate what he believes -- you won't even do that.

Without "backup" your opinion is worthless.

Anaconda said...

IRAQ OIL LITERALLY "BUBBLES" TO THE SURFACE IN POOLS

Questions were raised in the above discussion about the sufficiency of oil seeps to cause the 'leaching' that would lead to "shale oil" as I hypothesized.

Cam Snow said: "Anaconda - How many exposed tar pits do you know of? I can only think of the Trinidad and La Brea examples off the top of my head - they are certainly quite rare." (July 5, 2008 1:47 PM)

Cam Snow said: "Would you advocate that there were an abundance of tar pits during this time? If so, why don't we have the 100's to 1000's of large tar pits scattered around the US now?" (July 5, 2008 1:47 PM)

This article:
The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2008
Wildcatters Plunge Into North Iraq
By Neil King Jr.

The Canadians are squeezing oil from sand. The Brazilians want to nurse it up through miles of seawater, sandstone and salt. But here in the far north of Iraq, oil is literally bubbling to the surface.

Oil executives lament that the age of "easy oil" is over. It isn't over here. For companies that have stumbled into this corner of Iraq known as Kurdistan, it's an era that has just begun. "Look at this," said Magne Normann, Middle East director for DNO International ASA of Norway, as he stood beside a pond of oil oozing up on a hillside. For fun, he heaved in a stone. "What a sight," he said, as the liquid shot three feet high. "Pure oil."

Iraq is well known as one of the planet's last great oil repositories, with more than 115 billion barrels of reserves, by most estimates. The surprise is how much oil -- and easily accessible oil -- there appears to be in Iraq's Kurdish region, a rugged, Switzerland-size area that has seen centuries of conflict but essentially no oil exploration, until now.

One of the world's most prolific oil fields, the Kirkuk field, sprawls for more than 70 miles just to the southwest of the Kurdish region's border. After 74 years in production, it still churns out over 400,000 barrels a day. Dozens of similar geological structures extend far to the north in Kurdistan, undrilled and almost entirely unexamined.

"I am not expecting to find another Kirkuk," says Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan's plain-talking minister of natural resources. "But I think we will find a lot of fields that add up to Kirkuk."

The hubbub is in sharp contrast to the rest of Iraq, where an exploratory well hasn't been drilled in 15 years, thanks to neglect throughout the Iran-Iraq war, the period of international sanctions and then the war that began in 2003. Major oil companies have entered talks with Baghdad over ways to boost output in the huge fields in Iraq's south. But the Iraqi government remains loath to grant outsiders the right to explore for new oil or to share in the profits. ...

Companies signing deals under the Kurds' law have since been barred by Baghdad from doing business in the rest of Iraq, where the biggest of the country's oil fields lie. That threat is keeping the major oil companies out of Kurdistan, despite their ardor for new terrain to drill. Meanwhile, until Iraqis can agree on a national oil law, the companies drilling in Kurdistan have no way to export oil they unearth.

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Highlight: "But here in the far north of Iraq, oil is literally bubbling to the surface."

Highlight: "Look at this," said Magne Normann, Middle East director for DNO International ASA of Norway, as he stood beside a pond of oil oozing up on a hillside. For fun, he heaved in a stone. "What a sight," he said, as the liquid shot three feet high. "Pure oil."

Highlight: "After 74 years in production, it still churns out over 400,000 barrels a day. Dozens of similar geological structures extend far to the north in Kurdistan, undrilled and almost entirely unexamined."

Could there have been enough oil seeps to supply the heavy oil leaching into the raparian watershed of lakes that formed "shale oil" sedimentary layers?

The factual evidence is more eloquent than words.