[extropy-chat] Deep-earth methane generation

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Wed May 4 15:11:46 UTC 2005

--- Amara Graps <amara at amara.com> wrote:
> Bret Kulakovich bret at bonfireproductions.com :
> >Just point me at a valid (hopefully published) source - I spend 3
> >hours commuting everyday.
> Thomas Gold generated controversy in almost everything he did, but
> sometimes he was right because he was a very smart man.  I think
> that his arguments and the arguments of his critics would illuminate
> this discussion in an intelligent way:

Given that there is at least as much biomass below ground today as
above ground, and that this subterranean biomass has lived for hundreds
of millions of years there, while surface algal blooms of massive
quantities constitute significantly less biomass, for shorter periods
of time, the simple numbers suggest that the bulk majority of oil, if
it is biotic, is produced from subterranean biomass, not surface

"The total pore-space available in the land areas of the Earth down to
5 kilometer depth can be estimated as 2 x 1022 cm3, (taking 3% porosity
as an average value). If material of the density of water fills these
pore spaces, then this would represent a mass of 2 x 10^16 tons. What
fraction of this might be bacterial mass? If it were 1% or 2 x10^14
tons, it would still be equivalent to a layer of the order of 1 1/2
meter thickness of living material if spread out over all of the land
surface. This would indeed be more than the existing surface flora and
fauna. We do not know at present how to make a realistic estimate of
the subterranean mass of material now living, but all that can be said
is that one must consider it possible that it is comparable to all the
living mass at the surface. "

If rock down to 5 km has an average porosity of 3%, and 1% of that pore
space is taken up by bacteria, this is an immense amount of biomass,
and the amount being converted to hydrates and oil should similarly be
a rather immense amount. 

I suggested yesterday that subducted hydrates should generate upwards
of about a quarter cubic km of oil per year, depending on the percent
of subducted sediment that is hydrates, assuming only 100,000 km of
subduction zone.

If instead the entire crust is producing oil in various amounts based
on thickness, porosity, etc it becomes clear that there is an immense
amount of oil being generated that slowly percolates upwards. If as was
claimed by Hal's cite yesterday, that biomass turns to oil below 3 km
depth, then this means potential global oil reserves of 600 x 10^13
tons, plus perhaps a thousandth or ten thousandth of that produced each
year as new oil reserves.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 
Blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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