|Style over substance|
The abiotic oil hypothesis proposes that a small amount of oil originates from non-biological origins. Research on the topic is ongoing; however, oilempire.us has noted the hypothesis as "wishful thinking" and a way to ignore "resource limits".
Outline of the hypothesis
The theory's adherents believe that oil originated as carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas rising through the deep layers of the Earth's crust. If this mixture was lucky enough to find zirconium-containing minerals, it could react and produce petroleum hydrocarbons. Some of these would move close enough to the surface to be exploitable by humanity.
This idea seems plausible because:
- Methane can result from volcanic activity and a certain type of theoretical volcano, cryovolcano, can release methane instead of rock. Methane converts in the atmosphere to water, CO, and CO2.
- Methane will form short-chain hydrocarbons under mantle pressures, as discovered in the USSR, and reproduced periodically since.
- Modern 'coal to liquids' and synthetic motor oil are based on hydrocarbon conversion.
- Methane exists on Saturn's moon, Titan, on Mars, on Jupiter, Saturn, really on every planet or moon one can check.
- Methane has been proposed to be abiotically produced in a process called serpentinization on Mars.
- Immanuel Velikovsky suggested in his book Worlds in Collision (1950) that oil was extraterrestrial in origin and came from comets.
- Velikovsky follower Robert W. Felix puts his own spin on this with hydrocarbon nano-diamonds raining down from the sky as a result of pole shifts.
- Jeffrey Wolynski proposed that oil and natural gas formation was a direct result of polymerization of hydrocarbons during intermediate stages of stellar evolution. The oil/natural gas rained down into the interior of the evolving star which was then subsequently trapped via crust deposition..
- God created oil for the benefit of mankind.
Views in the world
The hypothesis by itself is not pseudoscience; however, cranks peddle the hypothesis as a fact, and this is pseudoscientific. Save for a handful of gadflies, geologists in the West and the OPEC states, the world's primary oil producers and consumers, have little use for the abiotic oil hypothesis; they have learned through experience that you can't find petroleum anywhere close to the mantle (where the hypothesis claims it is formed) due to the fact that it breaks down in the high temperatures found at depths greater than 15,000 feet, and know that decades' worth of successful oil exploration has upheld the mainstream biotic model and where it predicts oil might be found. Most of its support is found in the Russian oil industry, at least partly for ideological reasons, and even there, its supporters are a minority, albeit a vocal one. The bastardization of the hypothesis has been used to push climate change denial arguments and ignore a diminishing amount of limited resources.
- Rush Limbaugh
- Jerome Corsi, who wrote a book, Black Gold Stranglehold, promoting the idea.
- George Noory promotes it from time to time.
- Geoffrey P. Glasby. Abiogenic origin of hydrocarbons: an historical overview Resource Geology, vol. 56, no. 1, 85–98, 2006
- Hook et al. Development of oil formation theories and their importance for peak oil. Marine and Petroleum Geology, vol. 27, iss. 9, 2010, pp. 1995-2004. (full text available as PDF file in the link)
- No Free Lunch: A Critique of Thomas Gold's Claims for Abiotic Oil[dead link] by Jean Laherrere.
- Vietnam Finds Oil in the Basement by David Brown
- The "Abiotic Oil" Controversy by Richard Heinberg
- Abiotic oil posts at The Oil Drum[dead link]
- The Origin of Oil—A Creationist Answer, John Matthews, Answers Research Journal, December 17, 2008
- Richard Heinberg on Abiotic Oil