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A model is proposed that postulates (1) a free-hydrogen source in the deep-seated environment, resulting from dissociation of water in the presence of minerals containing ferrous iron; (2) a continuous upward percolation of elemental hydrogen into the surface environment as a consequence of its high rate of diffusion relative to other constituents; and (3) a hydrogen sink near the surface formed by biologically catalyzed chemical reactions of free hydrogen with organic matter, ferric iron, sulfates, and atmospheric oxygen. It is suggested that the hydrogenation of biogenic organic matter in sedimentary rocks by free hydrogen of deep-seated origin should be investigated as a factor in the genesis of petroleum.
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