Sunday, 22 January 2012
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.