Thursday, 30 July 2009

Scientists Find Evidence of Hydrocarbons in Earth’s Upper Mantle

In a new research, scientists have found for the first time that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesised under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle of the Earth.

The research was conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues from Russia and Sweden.

Methane (CH4) is the main constituent of natural gas, while ethane (C2H6) is used as a petrochemical feedstock.

Both of these hydrocarbons, and others associated with fuel, are called saturated hydrocarbons because they have simple, single bonds and are saturated with hydrogen.

The implication here is that "fossil" fuels are not simply the result of decayed organic matter. On Saturn's moon Titan we have seen vast hydrocarbon seas. One might therefore assume that the earth too, being a rocky body, might also consist of non-organic materials such as we have seen on Titan. Oil and natural gas are likely being produced deep in the earth and have either worked their way up into areas that we subsequently drill or have remained in pools from ages past when there was more volcanic activity and more primeval (oily) elements on the surface.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, July 30th, 2009.]


steven andresen said...


This is interesting. There is a large body of writing on this subject related to the 'peak oil' controversy.

The Russians had scientists arguing that oil was created not by a process involving dinasaur carcasses, but by pressure and other natural processes going on now. They suggested that oil reserves could be replenished without more dinasaurs.

SpookyPunkos said...

I think the Russians might be onto something.

I know their wells are very deep, much lower than where you might expect to find decayed organic matter. Also some dry wells in various locations around the world appear to have replenished themselves, although I cannot recall the examples off the top of my head.

Curious indeed ! More research by the scientific community would come in handy- provided that it is not hijacked by the big oil companies.