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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Consequences of Uniformitarianism

Consequences of Uniformitarianism

   The posts on the blogs Unconventional Geology and  Abiotic Oil try, in summary, just show some aspects of a non-conventional issues of geology. It means an attempt to show that many natural processes, which are still believed to be already established or recognized as theories or hypotheses, may have a very different interpretation or even just being completely debunked by very different point of view from those so-called conventional.

   Most proposals, suggestions and hypotheses related to Earth sciences that are taught at schools, written in books and other publications are based on the principles of Uniformitarianism, which states that "The present is the key to the past." This mode of reasoning has been shown to be ineffective, leading to many inconsistent and erroneous interpretations on various geological processes, many of them neglecting basic natural laws as the conservation of mass and energy, laws of thermodynamics and even gravity. It should be noted that the Earth has undergone many changes since its formation, either in the internal or external dynamic systems. Most geological processes that occur in the present have no equivalent in the geological past of the planet. Geological processes are not slow and generally are not uniform and the records that remain are only  those fast and of catastrophic nature i.e., those that involving more energy.

   Much of this stems from not understanding the processes of planetary formation, which is not so simple. But one of the biggest problems seems to lie in the fact that geology and its branches do not maintain or even neglect the knowledge and advances, such as in other fields such as evidences of space exploration, astronomy, astrophysics, biology, among others. Also there is little dialogue between geology and other sciences, and... Could be geology even be considered science?  In my view, in terms of possibility - yes, but actually the geology has not yet reached the status of science, because geology is dominated by several strong dogmas, which means that those engaged in this study remain with minds closed to reason, even after inumerous inconsistencies that arise from a priori theories of geology. Inquestionable evidences and basic laws of nature are completely neglected by most part of geologists.

   Even today, in the 21st Century, geology has evolved little in the matter of understanding the natural processes of the planet and this is due in large part to applications of uniformitarian principles. Particularly, after I devoting many years trying apply traditional models and reasoning with Uniformitarianism, I realized that alternative and more robust models of geological processes and origin of certain phenomena, indicates a right way since from that release the imposition of dogmas. I was able to pick these inconsistences of dogmas and fundamentally not neglicencie the relevance of the basic laws of nature. Therefore when study any natural process they must be in accordance with the basic laws of nature.

   It will be here not a claim, but an invitation to reflection to all those who truly dedicate themselves to understand this philosophical question.

  Certainly we are unable to consider all the natural processes and mass balance and energy inherent to them and the theoretical models are needed, but there are models seen as very likely, likely, unlikely and improbable or impossible. Unfortunately, in geology there are still many improbable and impossible models and I desire contribute to the to the geology becomes, in fact, real science - and for that purpose it is suggested:

1 - Never neglect the basic laws of nature in the design of models. Among these laws, the most important (and perhaps all others derive from it) is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Principle of Clausius.

2 - After observation and understanding of any natural materials or processes, know make judgement of what is really autochthonous, i.e. formed in situ that of what is really allochthonous, i.e. not originated in situ. The calculations of mass balance and energy, though often difficult to quantify, must always be considered, even tentatively.

3 - Keep an open mind for all propositions and evidence, even if it may seem strange at first, but since they fit in the context of possibility and probability, and not based on nonsense.

4 - Keep the curiosity and dialogue. Surely this is that moves the science  and makes it becomes the science really science.

5 - Keep in mind that the aim of every understanding is the search for freedom from ignorance. Certainly the end or minimization of our ignorance will make that we can prevent wars, heal diseases, reduce coletive stress, save lives, having respect for nature and preserve the planet for present and future generations, and then we can finally live better implying in the progress of  respect and understanding of ourselves.

A theory which is founded on a new principle, a theory which has to make its way in the public mind by overturning the opinions commonly received by philosophising men, and one which has nothing to recommend it but the truth of its principles, and the view of wisdom or design to which it leads, neither of which may perhaps be perceived by the generality of people, such a theory, I say, must meet with the strongest opposition from the prejudices of the learned, and from the superstition of those who judge not for themselves in forming their notions, but look up to men of science for authority. Such is the case with some part of the Theory of the Earth, which I have given, and which will probably give offence to naturalists who have espoused an opposite opinion. In order, then, to obtain the approbation of the public, it may not be enough to give a theory that should be true, or altogether unexceptionable it may be necessary to defend every point that shall be thought exceptionable by other theorists, and to show the fallacy of every learned objection that may be made against it. It is thus, in general, that truth and error are forced to struggle together, in the progress of science; and it is only in proportion as science removes erroneous conceptions, which are necessarily in the constitution of human knowledge, that truth will find itself established in natural philosophy.” 
James Hutton - Theory of the Earth, 1795.

In geology, all that you can not see with the eyes does not exist.
Even if you see and interpret something does not mean that what you see  is exactly what you think and, even that much is known about the object, always this knowledge about it would be incomplete.
The conventional geology based on uniformitarianism  never did give me answers to my main questions that arose from the natural philosophy and surely  I believe this is due to the dogmas of geology that kept me prisioner and unfortunately continue to be taught and written. I realized that I found a way to overcome this by the logic and  always continue with humility the questioning of nature, without dogmas and seek for the answers and reasoning just through natural philosophy always considering basic laws of nature.” 
                            A natural philosopher, 2012

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Myth of Global Warming

The Myth of Global Warming

   Global warming is certainly a myth. This follows a series of absurdities. The first is to think that there would be the so-called "fossil fuels". This is nonsense of higher order. Just refer to the page on the origin of natural hydrocarbons for better information. The second is absurd to believe that humans have some ability to change the global climate with its activities. We are a fragile species that inhabit the surface of this planet and we are vulnerable to a range of natural disasters and, when they occur in sufficient magnitude, may in effect, wipe out all or almost all of humanity. Among these causes - and just to mention some of these - are the occurrence of massive meteoritic impact, extensive volcanism, incurable diseases caused by viruses, extreme imbalance of solar activity, among others.

   It will be much fanfare either by pseudo-scientists, politicians, media, environmentalists about the causes of the so-called "global warming", which means that less informed people become stressed about the possibility of this problem. The point is that many of these claims do not have adequate scientific basis, especially for neglecting or even unaware of the planet itself and the natural laws that govern it.

  Some say that the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, which is considered a greenhouse gas, is responsible for the phenomenon. However it is noteworthy that the composition of the atmosphere, the average concentration of CO2 is only 0.03% or 300ppm (parts per million) i.e., pratically has no CO2 in the atmosphere and most of that gas enters the process of photosynthesis with its natural cycle.

   On the other hand, although almost no methane gas (CH4) is part of the atmosphere, methane is trapped in large volume inside the Earth (mantle) and also in the form of gas hydrate near the bottom of the oceans due to the continuous process of upewelling since from the beginning of the process of planetary formation. Methane is a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. In geological time many mass extinctions can be explained by the huge release of methane by catastrophic events.

   Thus, to promote alarm based on global warming by anthropogenic causes, or is ignorance or a serious scam that might be interest just to some groups.

   To see some records you can visit:
The video below also shows an interesting picture, but just when it is mentioned only to disregard the word "fossil fuel". Carbon-based fuel is most suitable word.

John Coleman Debunks the Myth of Global Warming

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hydrocabons and the Origin of Life in the Earth and Beyond

Hydrocarbons and the Origin of Life in the Earth and Beyond

   Life as we know it is based primarily on carbon. Carbon is the fourth element in the order of cosmic abundance, after hydrogen, helium and oxygen. Many astrobiologists try to evaluate the possibility of life on other planets, based on hypotheses about the conditions on the surface, such as the presence of liquid water, favorable temperatures and the composition of atmospheric gases, among other factors, even including life in extreme environments. However, there is the possibility that life in the planetary bodies could develop first underground, at depths of several kilometers below the surface, within the pores of the rocks. There, the presence of abiogenic hydrocarbons, mainly primordial methane, oxygen compounds associated with iron oxide minerals, and even water, all at appropriate temperatures, could provide ideal conditions for the emergence of life. 

   The conquest of the planet's surface by life would become possible only at a later stage when prokaryotic bacteria (Archaea) arise and move away from the declining hydrocarbon resources, adapt to surface conditions and develop internally catalyzed complex photosynthetic reactions permitting autotrophy. 

   The detection of a deep biosphere in other planets is not simple and probably beyond the capabilities of our technology of telescopes and space probes. On the other hand, it would be relatively less complex to identify life on planets where photosynthesis does occur and has become exuberant.

   Therefore, if we really want evolve in researches about origin of life (carbon-based life), first it is necessary understand carbon and hydrogen-carbon systems beside oxygen and nitrogen. The clues in hydrocarbons molecules surely are fundamental with respect to their origin, composition, occurence, mass balance, of course following basic laws of physics and not based in dogmas of geology and biology.

   Life seems to be something very abundant not only on Earth but throughout the universe and its origin remains a mystery to be unraveled. Nowadays we know that hydrocarbons are abundant both on Earth and the universe. 

 The proposition of the scientist Sir Fre Hoyle on Panspermia also seems appropriateHowever we must always remember that the hydrocarbon moleculesalong with their possible participation in the prebiotic chemistry are also a food source for early microbial life and, in this last case, life could only flourish with the presence of hydrocarbons.

See link below for additional information.

Peak Oil Myth

Peak Oil Myth

   Hydrocarbons such as oil and natural gas surely are abiotic and primordial materials in its origin. Oil is very abundant and peak oil is merely a myth as well as to think that “fossil fuels” could exist. It’s noteworthy that we are in 21th century and not in the Middle Age. 

The question is:
When our world finally runs out of oil…? 
That’s a huge long time! Maybe when our Sun in stage of red giant expansion consumes entirely Earth. Oil and natural gas are abundant primordial materials, not “fossil fuel”. Petroleum (oil and natural gas) comes surely from Earth’s mantle and they still in upwelling, clearly replenishing oil and gas in conventional reservoirs as proposed by scientist Thomas Gold. This refilling or recharging of reservoirs have many examples such as Eugene Island, in Gulf of Mexico, Romashkinokoye, in Russia, Prudhoe Bay, in Alaska.

   Unfortunately, nowadays still exists the claim that petroleum and natural gas are fossil fuels, produced by the decay of organic sediments composed of microscopic marine organisms which miraculously would transformed into oil or gas. Supposedly their decay produces a tar like substance called kerogen, which is largely composed of very heavy hydrocarbons. As layers of sediment pile on top of these supposed kerogen deposits, they are eventually buried so deep that the Earth’s internal heat and pressure convert the kerogen to lighter hydrocarbons, including methane (CH4, the main component of natural gas). And according to this suggestion  there would be no doubt that kerogen, found in oil shales and tar sands, can be converted by heat into oil and gas, which is nonsense of high order .

   Decades ago, some eminent researchers, most of them in the old Soviet Union, proposed that the fossil fuel theory is incorrect, and that most oil and gas is of abiotic origin, formed from methane and other carbon compounds trapped in the Earth when it was formed. They state that there is no “peak oil,” but that vast amounts of oil and gas are slowly rising from Earth’s mantle and the lower crust, enough to last us for thousands or even millions of years. Dmitri Mendeleev, a chemist, was one of the Soviet proponents of abiotic origin; many of the others were geologists. French chemist Marcellin Berthelot and American astronomer Thomas Gold were among the first Westerners to agree with them. Gold even convinced Swedish authorities to drill a test well in granite with no organic sediments over, under, or in it, and small amounts of oil were found. Oil and gas have been found elsewhere when wells penetrated below all the sediments, but skeptics claim that the oil somehow leaked down from overlying sediments, or that the rock layers had so folded and twisted that the igneous basement rocks were now above some sediments.

   It's incredible that some "peak oil" writers highlights how proponents of abiotic petroleum were generally chemists with very little geological knowledge (Berthelot, Mendeleev, for instance). That's another nonsense.  Do geologists who think oil is fossil fuel have much knowledge of chemistry? What then was the miracle that would transform biological detritus in hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas)? The eminent chemists as Marcelin Berthelot, Dmitri Mendeleev (father of Periodic Table) certainly had considerable knowledge of chemistry and the modern science has proven that these scientists are right and many geologists still need learn better chemistry.

   In the mud on ocean bottoms, vast amounts of methane are trapped in frozen hydrates or methane clathrates, far exceeding all the gas ever produced or found in proven reserves. Found at depths over 300 meters, the methane molecules, due to cold and pressure, are trapped in a kind of cage of water molecules and mixed with the sediments. The methane trapped in one small area off the coast of the Carolinas could, if we could extract it, supply the US with over fifty years of natural gas…and this is but a small part of the worldwide supply of clathrates. We may or may not be able to develop safe and economical ways of tapping this resource, but the sheer volume of the gas is hard to explain with the biological theory. The carbon alone in the clathrates is estimated at twice the total amount of carbon in all other “fossil fuel” deposits, and these include coal, which is mostly carbon.

   Helium gas is found in some gas wells, enough to make it profitable to extract it. This light and inert gas, because it cannot burn, is used in balloons and airships. Being inert and non-reactive it cannot form compounds, including organic compounds. So everyone is forced to admit that helium is abiotic; it was trapped inside the Earth when our planet was formed. So if helium was trapped, why not methane?

   Interstellar gas and dust clouds contain a variety of hydrocarbons and other organic compounds, obviously not formed from marine algae, compounds such as methane, formaldehyde, acetylene, ethylene, ketene, methanol, and benzene. In addition, the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan is mostly methane, and no one seriously believes that oceans of liquid water and marine organisms exist on Titan, which is far from the Sun and colder than dry ice. So if methane and other hydrocarbons form in space and can be trapped on Titan, obviously some must have been trapped in the early Earth. In addition, some meteorites, called carbonaceous chondrites, contain kerogen, the supposed residue of marine organisms which is converted into petroleum…but there are no marine organisms in space, largely because there are no oceans. Currently accepted theory holds that the Earth was formed by the accretion of meteors, asteroids, and comets, so, along with the methane, significant amounts of kerogen had to have been trapped in our planet at its birth.

   So it is virtually certain that much oil and gas is of abiotic origin, and the amounts remaining are likely to far exceed all that we have tapped so far.

   It seems likely that theories of ”peak oil” are just that…theories. The US is, in fact, incredibly rich in “fossil fuels.” Our dependence on imports is a contrived situation, and our failure to develop our vast domestic reserves is based on political decisions by environmental extremists. If, as seems virtually certain, most of our hydrocarbon fuels were trapped in our planet when it formed some 4.6 billion years ago, the chances that we just happen to be living in the period when most of it is depleted are remote. Almost certainly we have enough oil and gas to last us thousands, even millions of years. Of course we should practice energy conservation when it is economical to do so, and of course we should try to develop new energy sources. But failure now to tap the reserves we know we have is madness.

A Peak Oil Contrarian

   F. William Engdahl once accepted peak oil analysis, but no longer does. He explains why in his writing, and this section summarizes his reasoning. It's based on the Russian-Ukrainian theory that oil originated from deep carbon deposits dating as far back as the Earth's formation. It's not a fossil fuel or of biological origin, and its potential may be far greater than current hydrocarbon estimates.

   According to Engdahl and others sharing this view, peak oil adherents believe oil is a fossil fuel, its origin is biological, its supply finite, and it's only found in areas where it was "geologically trapped millions of years underground reservoirs (around) 4-6000 feet below the surface of the Earth." At times, large amounts may also be in shallow water offshore rock formations in places like the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea or Gulf of Guinea. In any event, prevailing reasoning is that it's running out, and it's a just a matter of deciding how much is left and when it no longer will be available in amounts needed to sustain world economies. Peak oil proponents believe the time is fast approaching.

   Petroleum science dates from the year 1757 when Russian scholar Mikhail Lomonosov hypothesized that oil's origin might be biological. In the early 19th century, two scientists disagreed - German naturalist and geologist Alexander von Humboldt and French chemist and thermodynamicist Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac. Together they proposed that oil is primordial matter, it erupted from deep within the Earth, and it has no connection to biological material nearer the surface. Later in the century, others held similar views - most notably the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev (the father of the Periodic Table of chemical elements) and French chemist Marcellin Berthelot. Mendeleev, in particular, believed that "petroleum was born in the depths of the Earth (called "deep faults"), and it is only there that we must seek its origin."

   Modern petroleum science dates from the end of WW II when the Cold War began and the former Soviet Union faced isolation from the West. At the time, its scientists believed the country was in trouble. It had limited reserves and was shut out of many parts of the world for supply. It thus became imperative to find new deposits inside the country.

   So its scientists at the Institute of the Physics of the Earth of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Ukraine Academy of Sciences set out to do it. They studied oil's origin, how reserves are generated, and the most effective exploration methods to extract it.

   In 1951, Nikolai Kudryavtsev proposed the first modern deep abiotic oil origins theory at the All-Union petroleum geology congress. He discounted claims about oil's biological origin and was joined by other Russian and Ukrainian geologists, including Vladimir Porfir'yev.

   In 1956, Porfir'yev announced their conclusions that even now are largely unacknowledged in the West: that "Crude oil and natural petroleum have no intrinsic connection with biological matter originating near the surface of the Earth." They're "primordial materials which have been erupted from great depths," and believing their supply is limited is a hoax to keep prices high at times like now.

   The theory rests on the abiotic origin of oil. It's mirror opposite orthodox geology, and, if right, here's what it means - that available oil is only limited by deep Earth organic hydrocarbon constituents at the time of the planet's formation, and technological advances will eventually tap them in ultra-deep reservoirs and from old fields believed to be barren.

   The theory defies conventional science, but it's paying off. It let Soviet Russia develop huge oil and gas fields in regions previously thought unsuitable. In the 1990s, it was also successfully used in the Dnieper-Donets Basin between Russia and Ukraine in areas considered barren. Sixty-one wells were drilled of which 37 (60%) proved out. Engdahl compares this to US wildcat drilling that produces 90% dry holes.

It’s also interesting keep in mind what Sir Fred Hoyle said:

“The suggestion that petroleum might have arisen from some transformation of squashed fish or biological detritus is surely the silliest notion to have been entertained by substantial numbers of persons over an extended period of time.”
Fred Hoyle, cosmologist/astrophysicist, 1982

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Deep Hot Biosphere

The Deep Hot Biosphere

   The Deep Hot Biosphere theory was proposed by the scientist astrophysicist, astronomer and cosmologist  Thomas Gold (1920-2004). It concerns of a microbial biosphere that exists at depth, profuse both within the Earth and probably other planets, feed by primordial and abiotic hydrocarbons, mainly methane and chemical energy. This realm, dominated by procaryotic Archaea and  positioned on suitable range of temperature, is independent of surface life and protected of harmful radiation and meteoritic impacts. The biomass of deep biosphere may exceed the entire mass of the surface biosphere. Deep levels in the Earth would be an environment that could form catalytic and autocatalytic molecules that contribute for the emergence of life. After, this deep primeval life developed a sophisticated apparatus to conquest the surface of planet - by photosynthesis - using energy from sunlight to dissociated water and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates, permitting autotrophy.

   The Deep Hot Biosphere was originally published in an article of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,1992, USA). In 1999, Thomas Gold published the book "The Deep Hot Biosphere - The Myth Of Fossil Fuels" which describes in detail the ideas that support this theory. The main reason consists in understanding the origin of hydrocarbons whose base is in Deep-Earth Gas Theory.

   Thomas Gold postulated that hydrocarbons (such as oil, natural gas and black coal ) are primary compounds, i.e., were incorporated into the Earth during the process of planetary accretion. He stated that hydrocarbons are surelly abiotic compounds and very common on Earth and the universe. His ideas and from other eminent scientists about the origin of oil and natural gas are extensively discussed and offer outstanding solutions to solve the petroleum paradox.

   His work is a legacy to science and humanity and the book The Deep Hot Biosphere - The Myth Of Fossil Fuels is also accessible to understanding by laymen. In summary his ideas can thus be defined as its own quote:

"Hydrocarbons are not biology reworked by geology (as traditional view would hold), but rather geology reworked by biology"

Gold, T., 1992
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, USA
Vol 89, pp. 6045-6049, July 1992

There are strong indications that microbial life is widespread at depth in the crust of the Earth, just as such life has been identified in numerous ocean vents. This life is not dependent on solar energy and photosynthesis for its primary energy supply, and it is essentially independent of the surface circumstances. Its energy supply comes from chemical sources, due to fluids that migrate upward from deeper levels in the Earth. In mass and volume it may be comparable with all surface life. Such microbial life may account for the presence of biological molecules in all carbonaceous materials in the outer crust, and the inference that these materials must have derived from biological deposits accumulated at the surface is therefore not necessarily valid. Subsurface life may be widespread among the planetary bodies of our solar system, since many of them have equally suitable conditions below, while having totally inhospitable surfaces. One may even speculate that such life may be widely disseminated in the universe, since planetary type bodies with similar subsurface conditions may be common as solitary objects in space, as well as in other solar-type systems.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Turbidite Sequences

Turbidite Sequences

   Turbidites are syntectonic sedimentary deposits orginated by deep submarine turbidity currents, especially in foreland basins, in tectonic setting of convergent margin (active). To most part of geologists, turbidite is a sequence of layers that consist of a grano-classified set of sandstone strata/pelitic sediments, generally in fining-upward that were deposited by turbidity currents and is commonly covered by hemipelagic pelites containing assemblages of  deep-water fossils.

   The deposits are formed by concentrated hyperpicnal flow, building a succession of  sandy and hemipelagic sediments very thick set of sedimentary strata (layes), deposited in a short period of geologic time. They are linked to the rising of orogenic chains, exposing the crystalline basement, intense denudation through small rivers that lead quickly (in terms of geological time) with large amounts of sediment deposition in a confined environment, in the context of deep water, forming typical sedimentary structures. The composition of turbidite sequences may be siliciclastic (sands, pelites), carbonates, lithic fragments, salt, volcaniclastics and others.

   The turbidites are characterized by layers (bed) with great lateral continuity, bedding regularly and generally gradational with thinning of the grains to the top of each stratum (layer), ripple marks, association of hemipelagic sediments, base-layer structures as sole marks, flutecasts, marks objects (toolmarks, grooves). Each stratum of turbidite (bed) is deposited in a single one event (flow). The partition of energy between dense and turbulent flow during a turbidity event gives the typical features of these deposits.  In Bi-partite flows dense and fast deposition commonly form massive sandstones while turbulent flow will deposit fine sediments (pelites).The deceleration of the turbulent flow may form ripple marks before decanting the less dense materials and the finer particles, such as clays and silts.

The characterization of some facies and processes associated with siliciclastic turbidites comes primarily from the observation of the structures formed in the ignimbrite flows, which are volcaniclastic rocks.

Spetacular turbidite outcrop. Gorgoglione Flysch, Miocene, South Italy

Classical turbidite deposits with high efficiency flux occur in the European foreland basins, with the best expositions in the Apennines of Italy, Spanish  Pyrenees, Western Alps in France. In Brazil, State of Santa Catarina, typical turbidites occur in Early Paleozoic Itajai Basin and in some Proterozoic basins.

   The turbidite sequences are highly sought by petroleum geologists because they can constitute good reservoirs for hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas).

   Among the scholars of the turbidite sequences are Carlo Migliorini, Kuenen, Arnold Bouma, Emiliano Mutti, Franco Ricci-Lucchi, Shanmugan, Mulder, Pickering, Normark, Lowe, Middleton, P. Heller, Kneller, R. Tinterri and many others.

   But what would be the unconventional ideas on the issue of use of the term turbidite? The issue is the problem caused by the confusion that is made to designate and generalize as turbidites all sedimentary sequences deposited in the context of deep water, especially those that occur in divergent margins (passive margins). Deep-water deposits in divergent margin could not be designated as turbidites because they are related to flows of low efficiency (energy), mainly linked to the response of sea level oscillation, frequently in Lowstand System Tract. The big rivers carry sediments during flood events, but if the sea level remains stable, these sediments are not transported beyond the slope and remain, whether in bars or as mouth-bars of the rivers, in deltaic deposits, dominated by rivers, waves or tides. Part of these sediments can reach regions offshore platform, but the transfer of large amounts of sediment can only be transported by catastrophic event with significant fall of sea level. In this context, strong erosion occur in the onshore basin drainage (watershed) and forming incised valleys in environments of near-shore and platform (shelf), developing of deep cut canyons on the slope that will facilitate transport beyond the slope of those materials present on the platform, and its final deposition at basin floor. In some areas, deep-water bottom-currents may rework slightly the top of turbidite sediments and form contourite deposits. However, even all these process does not have high efficiency to form the typical features of classic turbidites present in foreland basins. Thus it seems desirable to use the term turbidite only for deposits with typical sedimentary facies and its association such as those occurring in the foreland basins, with deposition associated to deep confined environments, source and transport of sediments due high rising of mountain chain and small dirty-rivers. In any case, much remains to be understood about the processes that form turbidite sequences.

Zumaia is a small village along the coast of Guipúzcoa (Basque Country). Famous in this area is known as the geological formation Flysch Zumaia. These impressive outcrops, often with verticalized layers and extraordinary continuity, ranging from Late Cretaceous to Paleogene. This alternation of calcareous clay and marl are a classic example of Flysch, i.e. classical turbidite sediments.

Peat Formation

Peat Formation

   According to the scientist Thomas Gold, in his book "The Deep Hot Biosphere", peat and lignite are clearly biological materials,  but the reason for their accumulation may well lie in the circumstances created by non-biological hydrocarbons that happen to upwell from below and that may also add more carbon than contained in the plants involved.

   Peat and lignite also represent a most interesting partnership between biogenic and abiogenic carbon sources. The anoxic situation in the swamp may often be due to the rapid growth of bacteria plundering any available oxygen atoms in order to burn, for their metabolic needs, abiogenic methane upwelling from below. Because methane is such a desirable food, methanotrophic microbes will outcompete those tha would otherwise use oxygen to attack the plant debris, the cellulose and lignin molecules of which many may be particularly resistant to attack. A swamp will then be created from all the plant material that has accumulated and not yet decomposed.

   It's also interesting that where a patch of peaty terrain in Switzerland are vegetated by the same flora that is characteristic of peat bogs that occurs on steep hillsides, along fault lines that run transverse to the slope hill.  Methane outgassing is therefore likely to create peat and lignite deposits in regions overlying a strong flow of hydrocarbons.

  Element mercury sometimes occur at trace content associated to peat. Some researchers report this evidence, meanwhile they used to link the presence of mercury due to anthropic cause, i.e. industrial pollution and for the old peat they link to the epoch of Industrial Revolution, which is nonsense. Mercury is related to gaseous abiogenic hydrocarbon upwelling, mainly dimethyl-mercury as also occur in coal deposits by the same process.

   Certain kinds of continental sponges as Family of Porifera Metaniidae may also associate with altitude peat along fault lines or lagoons. Methane outgassing is frequently measured over these places.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Origin of black coal

Origin of Black Coal

     Many people think that the process of coal formation is fully understood. The paradigm is that coal is essentially a product formed through the burial of plants and, according to this conventional view, the common presence of plant fossils associated with coal deposits therefore would explain intrinsically throught biogenic origin. However, there are much evidences related to the coal origin that are not yet understood.

     The American scientist Thomas Gold proposed in his book "The Deep Hot Biosphere" an insight into the processes of coal formation very different from the conventional view. He states that the existence of fossils with an excellent state of preservation, including textures at the cellular tissues level, proves that coal can not be formed through biogenic origin.

He said in an interview:

“The coal we dig is hard, brittle stuff [but] it was once a liquid, because we find embedded in the middle of a six-foot seam of coal such things as a delicate wing of some animal or a leaf of a plant. They are undestroyed, absolutely preserved, with every cell in that fossil filled with exactly the same coal as all the coal on the outside... The fact that coal contains fossils does not prove that it is a fossil fuel; it proves exactly the opposite. Those fossils you find in coal prove that coal is not made from those fossils. How could you take a forest and much it all up so that it is a completely featureless big black substance and then find one leaf in it that is perfectly preserved? That is absolute nonsense.”

 Highly preserved plant fossil in black coal

    The abiogenic theory then, combined with the deep, hot biosphere theory is as Gold succinctly phrases it; “not biology that has been reworked by geology but geology that has been reworked by biology”.  One might expect coal to be the exception; surely coal is the result of degraded plant life and ancient swamps. No, says Gold, but he does make a partial exception for peat and lignite, which are indeed reworked plant life with some help from primordial hydrocarbons. But black coals come from the same upwelling of hydrocarbons as petroleum and methane, originating far below the sedimentary layers. The process is essentially a sequential loss of hydrogen atoms as hydrocarbons upwell through porous rock, and this is the primary reason why so many petroleum fields are configured in a “layer-cake” manner. Methane is at the lowest depth, layered on this is light crude, next come the heavier oils, and then often on top of all is blackcoal. This correlation of coal with petroleum fields can be seen in many parts of the world (see pictures of US oil and coal maps below). The blacker the coal the greater the hydrogen loss and the greater the carbon to hydrogen ratio. How do the hydrocarbons lose their hydrogen atoms? Though many factors are involved, and we can go no further into the technical details here, there is a gradual process of oxidation as the hydrocarbons upwell, and carbon deposits left behind tend to be a catalyst for more carbon deposits, not unlike what happens in an internal combustion engine.

Coal formation

Biogenic (Orthodox): Coal is a material derived from organic detritus (plant material) that was buried and compressed. 

 Coal mining in Indonesia

Abiogenic: Coal (black only) is a material that may contain the presence of organic compounds, but that was filled by inorganic hydrocarbons that migrated by continuous upwelling come from great depth and reached these deposits in the surface and preserving fine debris and cellular tissues of plants. Such a situation may occur in the surface migration of methane and oil on areas of marshes or peat.
Several metals such as Nickel, Vanadium, Chromium, Cadmium, Mercury, Arsenic, Lead, Selenium, among others, are also present in coal. Many coals are sometimes bituminous and also have high sulfur content. As with oil, these metals come from deep inside the Earth (mantle) and black coal only represent stages in high loss of hydrogen of primordial hydrocarbons and intense biodegradation at shallower levels as postulated by Thomas Gold.
It's interesting that the same biomarkers found in oil are present in coal and represent, of course, parts of prokaryotic archaea that re-worked primordial hydrocarbons.
It's not rare association of uranium with black coal deposits. Association of biocide and poisonous element mercury with coal is also common evidence. In many coal deposits in the world are commonly found thin white layers called tonsteins that consisting of kaolin material, sometimes interpreted as volcanic ash.
There are some occurrences of coal in Precambrian, Neoproterozoic. According to fossil record of planet Earth there's no superior plant  at that time, then the Proterozoic coal is surely abiotic and represents probably  ancient oil accumulation with high hydrogen loss and biodegradation of primordial hydrocarbons.
Coal sometimes occurs in thick layers, as shown in the pictures below. It would be hard to imagine a swamp or anarea with thick ancient forests accumulated and its volume decreased after the water loss and compaction of the layers to form a thick coal layer.
Only the brown coal (lignite) should be considered dominantly biogenic.

Coal layer over 100 ft - Powder River, Wyoming, USA

Thick coal layer. See car and person as scale

   It is also common association of coal over oil and gas production areas. See below a comparison between maps of oil and coal occurrences in the United States.

Oil and natural gas production areas in the United States

   Main coal basins in the United States

"Petroleum and coal were made from materials in which heavy hydrocarbons were common components. We know that because the meteorites are the sort of debris left over from the formations of the planets and those contain carbon in unoxidized form as hydrocarbons as oil and coal-like particles. We find that in one large class of meteorites and we find that equally on many of the other planetary bodies in the solar system. So it’s pretty clear that when the Earth formed it contained a lot of carbon material built into it." (Thomas Gold)