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Origin of petroleum within our solar system, a review: emphasis on the future prospects of major oil and gas discovery within Mars and moons of various planets
Author(s): Prasanta K. Mukhopadhyay; David J. Mossman; James M. Ehrman
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Paper Abstract

Results of earlier research using organic petrological, geochemical, SEM-EDX, and FSSEM confirm the presence of abundant biogenic components in terrestrial sedimentary rocks since 3.5 Ga. These organic components in the Precambrian terrestrial sediments and within the carbonaceous chondrites (CCs) possibly originated from organisms such as archaea and prokaryotes. Our ongoing results on selected CCs indicate that these biopolymers and geopolymers are the main sources of all recent hydrocarbons (oil and gas) within our Solar System (especially within Mars, various moons of the Saturn, and Comets) similar to early terrestrial environment. These hydrocarbons are possibly derived from three temperature-influenced transformations of organic remains: (a) Low-temperature induced (50-200°C): Hydrocarbons (oil and gas) are derived from the bacterial and other primitive organic remains (e.g. Murchison, Orgueil, and Tagish Lake); (b) Transitional-temperature induced (200-300°C): These hydrocarbons are formed directly from the biopolymers either within deeper part of the individual planet or asteroids using a mineral catalyst or from a direct transformation on the surface of the individual Planet or Asteroid bodies by intense solar radiation (e.g. ALH 840001 and NWA), and (c) High temperature and pressure induced (350-500°C) - These hydrocarbons (pyrobitumen, inert kerogen, and mainly methane) are formed in a superheated (hydrothermal) environment similar to that of the biological habitat within hydrothermal vents along terrestrial midoceanic ridges (e.g. Allende, EET and Vigarano). In such an extreme oxygen-depleted environment, biological life and hydrocarbon generation are intimately linked. Apart from the concept of panspermia, our earlier data highlights a possible link between universal life, biopolymers, geopolymers and their thermal decomposition to hydrocarbons (oil and gas) in various planets similar to terrestrial sediments. The organics and water within CCs and comets, recent discoveries of methane, gas hydrates, water as ice and snow storms, and the key geological features within Mars, liquid low molecular weight hydrocarbon (methane to propane) lakes and solid gas hydrates within various moons of Saturn and Jupiter all point to the presence of biologically derived petroleum within our Solar System. Our model of a Universal Unconventional Petroleum System promises major prospects of oil and gas throughout our Solar System and especially within Mars and various moons of Saturn. Based on the physicochemical constraints, earlier research, and recent discoveries we predict a major prospect of heavy oil (similar to Tar Sand in Alberta, Canada) and light hydrocarbon gases within Mars.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 September 2009
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7441, Instruments and Methods for Astrobiology and Planetary Missions XII, 74410S (4 September 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.831227
Show Author Affiliations
Prasanta K. Mukhopadhyay, Global Geoenergy Research Ltd. (Canada)
David J. Mossman, Mt. Allison Univ. (Canada)
James M. Ehrman, Mt. Allison Univ. (Canada)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7441:
Instruments and Methods for Astrobiology and Planetary Missions XII
Kurt D. Retherford; Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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