Saturday, August 9, 2008

Refutation of Geoffrey P. Glasby

Geoffrey P. Glasby is a so-called "chemist" at the University of Göttingen. In 2006, while at the University of Tokyo, he wrote an ontological (no offense to Ontologists) critique of reality in Resource Geology titled Abiogenic Hydrocarbons: An Historical Overview (also available here if you don't have Adobe).

There are so many factual errors in this paper that I assert it's impossible that it was peer reviewed and, if it was in fact peer reviewed, I would like to know the names of the illiterates who did so.

I have therefore decided to list the many factual errors of Geoffrey P. Glasby using his own words.

Factual error #1)

Thomas Gold's theory involves...the formation of higher hydrocarbons from methane in the upper layers of the Earth's crust.
That is incorrect. First of all it's not Thomas Gold's theory. More importantly, Thomas Gold's so-called "theory" involves the formation of higher hydrocarbons in the mantle. As Thomas Gold wrote in 1993, "Advances in high-pressure thermodynamics have shown that the pressure-temperature regime of the Earth would allow hydrocarbon molecules to be formed and to survive between the surface and a depth of 100 to 300 km." A depth of 100 to 300 km is clearly not in the crust. On the contrary, and unfortunately for Mr. Glasby, it is biogenic theory which states hydrocarbons are formed in the earth's crust which Glasby notes in the Abstract, is "not possible on thermodynamic grounds". Glasby writes, and I quote, "Formation of higher hydrocarbons in the upper layers of the Earth's crust occurs only as the result of Fischer-Tropsch-type reactions in the presence of hydrogen gas but is otherwise not possible on thermodynamic grounds." Therefore biogenic theory is invalid.

Factual error #2)

The theories of...N.A. Kudryavtsev and V.A. Porfir'ev...were too abstract and geologically too vague to be of practical use.
In what way is drilling past 15,000 feet and into igneous rock "too abstract and too vague to be of practical use"? This claim is laughable.

Factual error #3)

The Soviet theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins was never a driving force in the major oil fields as it's proponents claim.
So why did they drill past 15,000 feet TVD and into igneous rock?

Factual error #4)

The upper mantle is too oxidizing to permit methane from being the dominant form of carbon to be there.
How does Mr. Glasby know that the mantle is too oxidizing for methane to form there? Has he been to the mantle lately? Glasby offers no citation for this claim and, in fact, he cites precisely the opposite (Vernadsky 1933). However no abiotic theorist ever claimed that methane is the dominant form of carbon in the mantle.

Factual error #5)

These data show that the majority of the world's oil and gas is very young with 50% generated since the Oligocene.
However, Klemme and Ulmishek actually concluded "The concentration of [so-called] source rocks in these several stratigraphic intervals demonstrates uneven distribution of [so-called] source rocks in time." The reality is there is no such thing as so-called source rocks.

"The elemental distribution in the crude oil from all studied deposits does not match such of any known crustal rock." -- Kirill S. Ivanov, 2007.

Factual error #6)

The mantle is too oxidizing for methane to form there in abundance.
If the mantle is too oxidizing for methane to form in the mantle, how does Mr. Glasby propose that methane forms in the earth's crust? Oxygen is the most abundant element in the earths crust and comprises 46.6% of the earth's crust by mass. Once again Glasby offers no citation for the claim that oxidation is only possible in the earth's mantle but not in the earth's crust. In fact, he cited precisely the opposite (Vernadsky 1933) and I quote Glasby directly "with increasing depth in the earth's crust the oxygen content would decrease to zero, and the content of hydrogen would increase leading to the formation of hydrocarbons at depth." For the record, methane in the atmosphere has a half life of 7 years. More importantly, according to Oleg Sorokhtin, Ph.D.(Physics and Mathematics), of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oceanology, formation of methane REQUIRES oxidation:

Oleg Sorokhtin also said that abiogenous methane is likely to be found on the lake bed. The gas evolves from oxidation of material from the earth's interior rising through the split between continental plates. Mantle rock contains liquid iron, causing the emissions of methane, which is involved in the carbon cycle.
Furthermore the National Academy of Sciences would, yet again, seem to disagree with Mr. Glasby: Generation of methane in the Earth's mantle: In situ high pressure–temperature measurements of carbonate reduction.

"I don't think anybody's arguing that gas couldn't be generated from the mantle." -- Barry J. Katz, 2002


Anaconda said...


The contradictions are so obvious, one wonders just what was going on?

Glasby decidedly failed to connect the dots.


Well, it's important to note Glasby's paper was published in 2006.

Through the course of my research on Abiotic Oil, it was apparent a flurry of pro "fossil" theory and anti Abiotic Oil papers and articles were released roughly beginning in 2005.

What's significant about that?

Ideas, like political movements, take time to germinate in the public consciousness.

Thomas Gold published "The Deep Hot Biosphere" in 1999, and, while Abiotic Oil was not unknown in the United States, Gold's book greatly popularized the idea.

Gold's renown for earlier scientific work and his presentation in this book pushed consciousness of Abiotic Oil to an all time high.

But Abiotic Oil is like "fingernails scratching a chalkboard" to the ears of "Peak" oil pushers.

Interestingly enough, "Peak" oil also seemed to be gaining traction in the public consciousness about this same time.

So the last thing "Peak" oil needed was a theory that said oil was plentiful and regenerating.

A war of words broke out.

Up until this "war of words" began, the forces for "Peak" oil had been relatively silent.

The first strategy in politics is to ignore the ideas or information of the other side. The hope being that the ideas or information will never gain traction in the public consciousness.

But Abiotic Oil was gaining traction, so "ignore" was no longer a viable option.

Thus a flurry of attacks were made against Abiotic Oil by "Peak" oil pushers and their geologist collaborators.

Glasby's paper comes out of that time frame.

Frankly, the paper seems like a rush job, that tapped into Glasby's biases, rather than careful scientific scholarship.

As OilIsMastery points out, Glasby demonstrates he didn't have a solid grasp of the concepts surrounding Abiotic Oil.

And apparently neither did the people who reviewed Glasby's paper before publication.

By that time, however, there was no time to waste, if you were going to get "into the fight," so to speak.

As a result, Glasby "failed to connect the dots." And those who reviewed the paper "failed to connect the dots."

Of course, one is left wondering whether there was any real attempt to do justice to Abiotic Theory in the first place, or did a lack of basic understanding cause Glasby to publish a paper that can't withstand reasonable scientific scrutiny?

Either way, it paints a very unflattering picture of Glasby and his peers who reviewed the work.

OilIsMastery said...

If you want to put Glasby in his proper political and religious context see here:

"As a result of overpopulation, overconsumption, global warming, and environmental degradation, it now looks increasingly likely that there will be a major societal collapse within the next 200 years."

Quantum_Flux said...

Sounds like another slam dunk!

Anaconda said...

To OilIsMastery:
The Glasby quote you provide reveals Glasby's attitude, which regrettably is shared with most "Peak" oil believers.

I'll give Glasby this: At least his gloom and doom is 200 years off, many of the "doomers" see the "END" right around the corner.

Anaconda said...


After reading the following quote at the side-bar:

"We’ve barely tapped, from the exploration point of view, the hydrocarbon potential that’s out there on this planet." -- Stanley B. Keith, 2005

I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about the author. Mr. Keith is a geologist, and his principle expertise and focus is in hard rock mining. See Mr. Keith's resume.

Mr. Keith has had considerable professional succes as a consultant in the hard rock mining field, discovering gold and copper mines: "Use of [Mr. Keith's] approach has contributed substantially to the discovery of 10 major gold and copper deposits worldwide."

And Mr. Keith has also postulated an Abiotic Oil Theory that touches on many of the ideas that have been presented and described, here, on the Oil Is Mastery website.

Mr. Keith's scientific paper: Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons is a detailed geological, physical and chemical description of an Abiotic Theory of oil formation.

This reflects Mr. Keith's education where he studied structural geology and geochemistry.

Some highlighs from the paper:

"We suggest a third possibility--the generation of methane and heavier hydrocarbons through reactions that occur during cooling, fractionation, and deposition of dolomitic carbonates, metal-rich black shales, and other minerals from hydrothermal metagenic fluids."


"[P]etroleum accumulations could be considered, at least in part, mineral deposits—products of hydrothermal, geochemically-zoned fluid plumes that possess identifiable paragenetic sequences (Keith and Swan, 2005)."

The paper states that mineral catalysts could facilitate hydrocaron formation at shallower depths than J.F. Kenney has postulated.

Perhaps, the most interesting item is a diagram (an artist's conception) available at the bottom of the paper, by internal hyperlink after the references, which illustrates the geological and chemical processes outlined in the paper.

A previous commenter requested a diagram that oulined the processes involved in "transport" of oil from the mantle to the crust. While Keith's paper proposes a different process, the diagram is interesting never the less.

I have commented numerous times regarding dolomite, and this article describes the "Dolomite Problem" and notes that 80% of North American oil discoveries are found in association with dolomite.

So any scientific paper that expains the association of dolomite and oil is of interest and has to be investigated.

Also, the paper mentions "diamondoids" in oil as has been discussed previously, here, on the Oil Is Mastery website by myself.

A quote from Keith's paper:

"Virtually all oil is now known to contain nanodiamond particles and their diamondoid overgrowths. Nanodiamond presence strongly suggests a high-pressure, high-temperature origin at some point in the generation, migration, and deposition of the hydrocarbon (Dahl and others, 2003 a and b).

Over all, Keith's work is interesting.

We know that certain chemical reactions are facilitated by the presence of other minerals, which act as catalysts. We also know that according to chemical bonding theory hydrogen and carbon have a high chemical affinity by nature of their atomic and electron make up.

With the above knowledge in mind, Keith's work has to be taken seriously, even if at first review it disagrees with J.F. Kenney's postulate that hydrocarbons only originate in the mantle.

The role of catalysts in mineral formation is a critical area of investigation and understanding to evaluate Keith's work.

I would greatly appreciate other comments on Keith's work as it relates to Abiotic Oil Theory.

Geologist said...

Dr Glasby needs learn more about chemistry. Surely oil and natural gas is abiogenic and primordial. Contamination from bacteria that eat hydrocarbons leave their parts as biomarkers confusing the most part of geologists that oil comes from bio-detritus (sic). Crude oils have nickel, vanadium and other elements as mercury, cadmiun, lead, arsenic, and gases such as helium. It's impossible these elements and helium form from biological material. In this century if anyone think that oil is biogenic it's the same thing the in mathematics found a result dividing by zero.