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The Genesis of Petroleum

Nature volume 113, page 638 (03 May 1924) | Download Citation



THE origin of petroleum remains an obscure problem after much experimental work and more theoretical discussion. Of the two principal explanatory hypotheses, one is that petroleum results from the action of water on metallic carbides in the interior of the earth; according to the other (which is more favoured), it is derived from the decomposition, by destructive distillation or slow change, possibly bacterial, of vegetable or animal matter, probably fish. A suggestive fact, recently brought to light by Chaston Chapman and others, is that the shark-liver oils contain as much as 90 per cent, of long-chain unsaturated hydrocarbons. Dr. Spielmann gives an impartial and detailed account of the whole situation, with special attention to recent work, and an excellent bibliography. His book is a most useful contribution to the literature on petroleum.

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