The Process Is Continuous

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in News | 0 comments

Science is not a pronouncement, it is a process. It is an exercise in the aggregation of knowledge over time and revising what is considered to be fact as new information is found. An example is the Copernican Revolution and Galileo’s theory that the Earth orbits the Sun. Scientific work often results in changes of “the facts”.

In the latter part of the 20th century, the concept of “compaction” became the accepted theory describing the creation of oil and gas. The idea is coal, oil and natural gas originate from the remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago that were buried under layers of water and sediment, which prevented the normal decomposition into dirt that occurs in the surface layers of the earth. These remains were compressed into sedimentary rock over the course of millions of years. Compaction theory says oil and gas in the ground is finite, and this limitation is part of the “peak oil” theories.

In the fall of 2015, Science magazine published the article “How buried water makes diamonds and oil” that describes the “Deep Earth Model” theory [HAND]. The model describes how water, 200 kilometers (roughly 124 miles) down, dissolves ions and causes many unexpected chemical reactions. Part of these reactions is the creation of “new” oil and gas. This model describes a continuous active process similar to those observed in biological systems and a process of creation with a vastly shorter timeline than the compaction theory. It challenges the compaction theory and may significantly alter modern theories of biology and geology.

CarbFix is an interesting project described in the report named “Rapid carbon mineralization for permanent disposal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions” [MATTER]. CarbFix is an investigation of “sequestration”, which is the process of capturing gases such as CO2 and removing them permanently from the air. The commonly accepted theory states that sequestration requires thousands of years. The CarbFix study was expected to require many years to show measurable results. Less than two years into the project, a remarkable discovery was made by the team; it is described in the article  “New solution to carbon pollution?” [SCIENCE] published in Science magazine. The team drilled wells into basalt formations, installed pipe and pumps, and began pumping gas into the wells. Early in the project one pump began to fail regularly so the team hauled it up to the surface for maintenance. The pump was covered with a brittle crust. The team was surprised to learn that the crusty stuff had captured a very large amount of CO2. This occurred far sooner than expected and shows that CO2 sequestration occurs very quickly and in very large quantities, perhaps up to 95% of injected volume.

These studies, and other research underway, reveal far more dynamic and powerful natural systems than many believe exist. The CO2 “problem” may not be the horrible mess the news media and politicians claim, not unlike the “Y2K” computer issue. As new research brings new information, we may learn of ongoing natural processes that are keeping our Earth healthy and alive.

References
[HAND] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/350/6261/613, Science 06 Nov 2015; Vol. 350, Issue 6261, pp. 613-614
[MATTER] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6291/1312 Science 10 Jun 2016 Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1312-1314
[SCIENCE] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6291/1262 Science 10 Jun 2016 Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1262-1263

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