Gold's theory (was Re: The Party's Over)

From: Joel Moore <>
Date: Tue Apr 13 2004 - 12:24:32 EDT

At 8:50 AM -0600 4/13/04, John W Burgeson wrote:
> >>"We have to take these statements [about running out of Saudi oil]
>seriously because of the damage they can do to [sic] influencing
>desision-makers. And I think it would be tragic for the world to believe
>that we're running out of oil in the next 10 years. We may be running
>out of oil in the next 50-80 years; that's something else.">>
>I guess that if Glenn said that, I'd have to give it credence. For a
>politician to say it, and not give grounds, is like a lot of things
>politicians say. They say what their advisors tell them, and their
>advisors are constrained by the political system to downplay the
>negatives and focus on the positives.
>That happens in business as well. I saw it over and over at IBM. A flip
>chart (old technology, I know) which had two charts of "exposures" (IBM
>speak for things that would scuttle the project) would be presented to
>middle management. By the time it reached the decision maker, those two
>pages were either gone or relegated to a footnote.
>I suspect that goes on at the big oil companies as well. The bigger the
>company, the more likely. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news.
>That happens in government too, of course. Bush, for instance, only
>"knows" what he is told. Unlike some liberal Democrats, I do not hold him
>accountable for 9-11.
>Back to the issue of whether it is "this decade" or "50-80 years." If it
>IS the latter, and being a Pollyanna by nature, I hope so, that is way
>different than "this decade." That it is "sometime in the future" is
>probably without question. But 50-80 years is a long time in technology
>history. So many possible scenarios.
>BTW, if the YECs are right, then there is the possibility of new
>discoveries of oil fields at very deep depths, as I understand. Gold's
>theories have not, as I understand, been refuted.
> (a story to tell)
>Ubi Caritas

On Gold's theory, I'd have to echo several past posts by Glenn:

and one by Steven Smith:

about Gold's theory.

Methane (natural gas) is produced in the deep biosphere but oil is
extremely unlikely. Methane is a simple molecule that can be found in
space and all sorts of places on earth. Oil comes from marine
organisms (see Glen's posts) and have biomarkers that point back to
those organisms. The biomarkers are different between different oil
fields, different aged oils, etc. Another key thing to remember about
oil (I think I saw this in a presentation that Glenn linked to) is
the very discrete and short geologic times in which oil source rocks
were generated. These periods are associated with anoxic oceans,
which makes the preservation of lots of organic matter possible.

Back to Gold's theory. If for some reason, some concentrated mass of
inorganic carbon existed in the deep subsurface, there's no reason it
should form complex organic molecules (that'd turn into oil) rather
than just forming methane. Additionally, the temperature range in
which oil can be generated is rather small (150-300 deg C) and
temperatures at depth rise above that range pretty quickly.
Metamorphic minerals don't even start forming until >300 deg C.

A quotation from Steven's post seems to best sum up all the things
that need to fall into place for recoverable oil to be present:
>1) Source of organic material; 2) Preservation of organic material;
>3) Cooking or maturation of the organic material to form oil; 4)
>Transportation of the oil; and 5) Deposition or trapping of the oil
>in a suitable structure that allows for concentration to economic
>quantities. Miss a step and you won't get an oil field for Glenn to
>discover with his geophysical tools. (This is a simplified list of
>process steps and I realize that under different economic
>conditions, petroleum companies have explored and occasionally
>tapped resources that have 'missed a step' by physically adding
>processes - such as with oil shales.)

Why do the YECs "predict" deep oil fields? It's not clear to me how
that's a part of the flood model.


Joel Moore
315 Hosler Building
Department of Geosciences
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-8055
Received on Tue Apr 13 12:15:07 2004

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