Re: The Deep Hot Biosphere

James Mahaffy (
Sat, 27 Feb 1999 11:45:54 -0600

Terry M. Gray wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> I'm just finishing up Thomas Gold's book *The Deep Hot Biosphere*. Gold is
> an astronomer/cosmologist (I think) who has maintained for a number of
> years that natural gas, oil, and black coal are not "fossil fuels" but
> rather have an abiogenic origin with hydrocarbons being a primordial
> component of the deep earth (deep being >=100 km).
> [snip]

> But, that's okay. I'm interested
> in hearing opinions of folks with a bit more expertise in this area than
> what I have.

Coal is my professional area of research. While I think almost all commercial
coal (from the major coal bearing rocks of the Carboniferous or Cretaceous or
Tertiary) can be shown fairly unequivocally on the basis of plant material that
can be found in thin sections of the coal (petrography) or by spores extracted
from that coal (my area) to be plant material - it is sometimes formed by quite
different plant communities in different ages and may have some important
chemical differences (low sulfur in younger Western coals).

There are some very old coals (Cambrian) and gold may have a better case for
making their origin a bit different. At least there are not that many
terrestrial plants known form those rocks that you could use for their
formation. Here I am speaking from ignorance because I assume some petrography
has been done, but am just not aware of what it is.

> Thanks.
> TG
> _________________
> Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
> Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
> Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
> phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

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