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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 hydrocarbon 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 serpentinite 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..
Views in the world
The hypothesis by itself is is not pseudoscience; however, cranks peddle the hypothesis as a fact, and this is psuedoscientific. In the West, the hypothesis is treated as it is, a hypothesis; however, petroleum researchers and Russian geologists do not. 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 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