As China modernizes, it uses more oil, while an unstableMiddle East means there’s less oil available. Oil wells arecurrently drilled 3 to 5 miles into the Earth’s crust. If wedig deeper, will we discover more oil?

Geophysicist Russel Hemley says, “?Experiments point to thepossibility of an inorganic source of hydrocarbons at greatdepth in the Earth?that is, hydrocarbons that come fromsimple reactions between water and rock and not just fromthe decomposition of living organisms.” Hembey holds thecontroversial theory that oil is formed naturally fromchemicals already beneath the Earth, and does notnecessarily come from decaying fossils.

As depth increases, the pressures inside the Earth are socrushing that molecules are squeezed into new forms andtemperature conditions are like an inferno. A team ofscientists performed experiments to mimic these conditionsand see if they produced oil. Researcher Henry Scott says,”Although it is well-established that commercial petroleumoriginates from the decay of once-living organisms, theseresults support the possibility that the deep Earth mayproduce abiogenic hydrocarbons of its own.”

If they prove their theory, you can bet you’llhearabout it from our science reporterLindaHowe!

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