For decades, “fossil” fuel is a term used to describe oil. It leaves the impression that oil is derived from the decay of ancient dinosaurs and fauna, millions of years old. In the minds of many, “fossil” fuels have become evidence of evolution.
It also implicitly suggests that there is a limited source of oil and once it is used up, it’s done.
A year ago, December 2014, NASA announced that its Curiosity rover plodding around on Mars discovered methane. In August 2012, the rover was exploring the 154 km-wide Gale crater when it picked up methane particles in the atmosphere. And briefly for two months, December 2013 to January 2014, the methane concentrations increased by a dramatic 1000%.
Methane is a gas necessary for the creation of oil. As heated methane percolates up through the earth’s crust, certain hydrocarbons cool and condense forming oil.
With the discovery of methane on Mars, many were convinced it was evidence of life on the Red Planet. Maybe the H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds wasn’t wrong.
One of the ways methane, an odorless gas, is created is through rotting organic material such as vegetation, but what most people don’t realize is that it can also be created by natural geological forces.
On January 14, 2005, Cassini-Huygens satellite was scanning one of the moons of Saturn — Titan — when it discovered massive concentrations of methane. There are quite literally lakes of Methane on the surface of this stark, cold moon where it gets to -292 degree F/-190 degrees C.
In 2005, NASA released a study in Nature Magazine concluding that Titan’s methane was abiotic, meaning it was not formed from decaying organics but from geological processes deep within Titan itself. Sorry, there are no dinosaurs on Titan.
So is methane on Mars an indicator of life or another example of naturally created Methane?
Well some suggest it is being produced by microbes, most theories believe, similar to Titan, the methane is coming from a non organic source.
What implications is there for earth. Like Mars and Titan, we have both types of methane, organic and abiotic.
We have oil being created from decay and the question is where did it all come from? A Biblical explanation — if you want piles of decaying organic material buried under sediment, a world wide flood easily provides that.
But there is another curious thing going on.
In his article, “It’s No Crude Joke: This Oil Field Grows Even as It’s Tapped,” published in the April 16, 1999 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Chris Cooper points to an interesting phenomena happening in oil fields around the world — some are refilling.
Cooper used Eugene 330, an oil platform located near Eugene Island in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Louisiana coast, as an example of what is happening.
After discovering a huge oil reserve near the island in the 1960s, an oil platform was constructed and by 1970 it was pumping out oil at the rate of 15,000 barrels a day. As the reservoir emptied, it was down to 4,000 barrels a day in the 1980s.
But then almost over night, in the 1990s an incredible thing happened. The oil production started increasing and returned to 13,000 barrels a day.
People were stunned.
Everyone wanted to find out what was happening. Basically, they did the geological equivalent of an MRI scan of the reservoir and discovered a huge hole in the bottom with oil gushing in. It was refilling from oil created by methane deep within the earth’s surface far below where it could be created organically.
According to Cooper this is not the only well refilling. The same thing is happening to reservoirs in Alaska and Uzbekistan.
In the article, Cooper also cited University of Tulsa professor Norman Haynes who wonders if oil wells are refilling in the Middle East. Haynes notes that they have been taking oil out of the Middle East for nearly 60 years and despite relatively few new oil discoveries the amount of oil reserves in the Middle East doubled during the 80s and 90s.
Forbes Magazine reported on presentations made by scientists at a gathering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden in 2008. Scientists from the Ukraine and Russia stated they believe that the bulk of methane on earth is being created by geological/chemical processes inside the earth’s core and not decaying organics.
Alexander Kitchka, a scientist with the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, estimates 60% of oil is not a fossil fuel, but comes from non organic sources.
- Mystery on Mars: Does methane really indicate life? Live Science
- It’s No Crude Joke: This Oil Field Grows Even as It’s Tapped, Note the original article published in the April 16, 1999 edition of the Wall Street Journal is no longer available. However, it can be read in its entirety at://www.stevespianoservice.com/theworld/oil.htm
- Abiotic Oil a Theory Worth Exploring: US News
- Is it really a “fossil” fuel?: Opentheword