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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Journal of Petroleum Geology


Journal of Petroleum Geology, Vol.6, No.2, pp.117-138, 1983

┬ęCopyright 2000 Scientific Press, Ltd.


A. A. Giardini* and Charles E. Melton**

*Dept. of Geology, **Dept. of Chemistry, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602, USA.


The general concept of petroleum formation by biogenic mechanisms has been firmly entrenched for a long time, but there has been no accumulation of convincing experimental evidence in support of this belief. If, on the other hand, a juvenile origin is considered, rigorous Previous HitmathematicalNext Hit and experimental treatments are possible. This is done here. The Previous HitmathematicalNext Hit Previous HitfoundationTop of the juvenile petroleum model is drawn from the model that has quantitatively explained the formation of the atmosphere, the oceans, and surficial carbonaceous matter by outgassing of the Earth. Experimental data for the abundance of juvenile precursors of petroleum--H 2 , CO, alcohols and hydrocarbons-- are obtained from diamond carriers which crystallized in the upper mantle 3.1 billion years ago. The correlation that exists world-wide between the distribution of petroleum accumulations and regions that have experienced diastrophism is interpreted as demonstrating a direct relationship between plate tectonics and channels of precursor outflow from the upper mantle to crustal traps. The conversion of precursors to petroleum is assigned to maturation processes. The theoretical coefficient of juvenile petroleum production is compared with coefficients of petroleum accumulation derived from published data on 78 giant petroleum accumulations. Agreement is found in all cases. The various "proofs" of a biological origin for petroleum are examined and found to be inconclusive. It is concluded that recognition of a mainly juvenile origin has been clouded by traces of biologically derived compounds and fossils that are merely intrinsic to the sedimentary nature of "source rock" and reservoirs. Limitations of the juvenile petroleum model and its possible value for petroleum exploration are discussed.

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