Bruce H. on "fossil" fuels

Rolf Martens rolf.martens at
Sun Aug 11 12:13:33 MDT 1996

Bruce H. on "fossil" fuels        [Fwd: 11.08.96]

[In the context of the debate started on this list between
Louis N. Proyect and me, the actual origins of the chemical
fuels have come to be debated. Here I forward from newsgroups
the views and informations of Bruce Hamilton. As I've made
clear earlier, I don't share his views. Ill return to the
subject. - RM]

From: B.Hamilton at (Bruce Hamilton)
Subject: Re: Lisa R. re "fossil" fuels (2)
Message-ID: Date: Sun, 11 Aug 1996 07:39:13 GMT
References: Followup-To: Organization:
Industrial Research Limited

This is pretty messy posting technique, I'm just going to add
some stuff from the Gasoline FAQ. Followups set to

rolf.martens at (Rolf Martens) wrote:

>Lisa R. re "fossil" fuels (2) [Posted: 09.08.96]

>A few points: ...
>Mainstream theory says origin of coal, oil and gas are much the
>same, part of one story. Why do you separate these? The
>conversion /extraction of gas and oil from coal is one indication
>of the chemical similarities.

The "mainstream" theory was established early this century after
geological and extra-terrestrial origins were carefully considered.
Recently Thomas Gold has had significant success convincing a
diverse range of people that much of the "fossil" methane is
actually abiotic in origin. He is a lone voice, but has an
impressive list of achievements that mean his opinion is seriously
considered. [ all the rest gone... much of which is dealt with by
Gold and others. The following give some sources ]

Note that I personally still believe the evidence for a biological
origin of fossil fuels, but it is possible that Gold may be correct
for some of the smaller HCs like methane. I Haven'y yet included
the following references in the FAQ, but they discuss various
aspects of Gold's hypothesis.

Nature v.368 p.499+ and p.536+ ( 1994 ) Chemical & Engineering News.
11 April 1994 Nature v.378. p.338+ and p.368+ ( 1995 ) Nature v.381
p114+ (1996 ) Bruce Hamilton 4.1 Where does crude oil come from?.

The generally-accepted origin of crude oil is from plant life up to
3 billion years ago, but predominantly from 100 to 600 million years
ago [1]. "Dead vegetarian dino dinner" is more correct than "dead
dinos". The molecular structure of the hydrocarbons and other
compounds present in fossil fuels can be linked to the leaf waxes
and other plant molecules of marine and terrestrial plants believed
to exist during that era. There are various biogenic marker chemicals
( such as isoprenoids from terpenes, porphyrins and aromatics from
natural pigments, pristane and phytane from the hydrolysis of
chlorophyll, and normal alkanes from waxes ), whose size and shape
can not be explained by known geological processes [2].

The presence of optical activity and the carbon isotopic ratios also
indicate a biological origin [3]. There is another hypothesis that
suggests crude oil is derived from methane from the earth's interior.
The current main proponent of this abiotic theory is Thomas Gold,
however abiotic and extraterrestrial origins for fossil fuels were
also considered at the turn of the century, and were discarded then.

A large amount of additional evidence for the biological origin of
crude oil has accumulated since then.

1. Modern Petroleum Technology - 5th edition. Editor, G.D.Hobson.
Wiley. ISBN 0 471 262498 (1984). - Chapter 1. G.D.Hobson.

2. Hydrocarbons from Fossil Fuels and their Relationship with
Living Organisms. I.R.Hills, G.W.Smith, and E.V.Whitehead.
J.Inst.Petrol., v.56 p.127-137 (May 1970).

3. Reference 1. - Chapter 9. R.E.Banks and P.J.King.

[So far Bruce Hamilton)

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