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Hydrocarbons in the Context of a Solid, Quantified, Growing and Radiating Earth

Stavros T. Tassos
Year: 2007 Pages: 6
Keywords: expanding earth, hydrocarbons
Traditionally coal, oil and gas, are considered to be biogenic in their origin. However it is acknowledged that the processes by which fossil fuels evidently formed are not totally understood. Coal and gas are thought to originate from the organic matter of dead plants (ferns, trees, grasses and phytoplankton), and oil from dead animal matter (mainly zooplankton). In this context the plants and animals from which fossil fuels were formed, lived and died 300-400 m.y.a. in primordial swamps for coal and gas, and oceans for oil, where stagnant water prevented the oxidation and total decomposition of organic matter. Assuming prevailing anoxic conditions and a depositional basin setting it is then thought that continual deposition and subsequent burial provided pressure and exposed the confined organic matter to high temperatures. For example, terrestrial plant material on the bottom of swamps was compacted into peat, and finally into anthracite by compaction to 10% of the original volume of the peat, and heating to ~200 oC. Bacteria attacked the cellulose in the plant and phytoplankton cell walls leading to significant biodegradation and producing methane gas. In the final conventional stage many of the seas receded and left dry land with coal, oil and gas buried underneath it.

Chemically, coal, oil, and gas are a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, mostly alkanes of various lengths, with no two deposits chemically identical. Naturally occurring methane gas, CH4, represents the simplest possible alkane and parent molecule. Longer chains, in the range of C5H12 to C18H38, are the liquid petroleum form, and the longest, but hydrogen deficient form is the solid coal. Hydrocarbons frequently contain other elements such as sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. The sulfur content in some cases can reach very high concentrations.