Marine blooms

Arthur V. Chadwick (
Wed, 11 Feb 1998 10:25:04 -0800

The latest issue of the AAPG Explorer has a commentary section discussing
the recent work of Martin and Young showing huge quantities of marine
plankton can be produced by adding minute quantities of iron to the
seawater. The author, Paul Comet, is suggesting that oil tankers returning
empty could instead carry iron (Fe+++) in their tanks, and release it on
the way back. The calculations of the effects reveal that the iron could
potentially generate more oil than the tanker carried over from
hydrocarbons generated by microplankton in the ocean. Te figures are

1 gram Fe+++ will generate 250,000 grams CH2 (= nearly 2 barrels petroleum)

Thus the potential for generating oil reserves from the present oceans is
virtually unlimited. In addition, for those who might be concerned about
the excess production of CO2 forom the burning of fossil fuels, according
to his calculations, .0000035 percent of the volume of oil transported were
occupied by salts used to replace Fe+++ in the oceans, virtually all of the
CO2 produced by the burning ot that oil could be removed from the atmosphere!

We are again reminded that the oceanic production of planktonic forms can
be virtually unlimited if the proper nutrients are available (Fe+++, PO4--,
and a source of Ca++ and CO2-- which could be dissolved or suspended
CaCO3). I suspect that submarine volcanism could keep the ocean saturated
with CO2 and SiO2, provide lots of Fe+++, and Ca++ and that such conditions
would produce planktonic blooms that would deplete the ocean of O2, causing
the death of oxygen dependent creatures such as whales and other marine
and the production of unimaginable masses of planktonic forms, which could
in relatively short order accumulate in huge microplanktonic deposits such
as those we see at Lompoc and in other places.