Thursday, February 14, 2008

Peak Oil? Not When You Have a Really Long Hose

This probably ties in to the abiotic theories of hydrocarbon genesis too.
From PhysOrg:

Titan's surface organics surpass oil reserves on Earth

Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new Cassini data. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.

The new findings from the study led by Ralph Lorenz, Cassini radar team member from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, USA, are reported in the 29 January 2008 issue of the Geophysical Research Letters.
"Titan is just covered in carbon-bearing material—it’s a giant factory of organic chemicals," said Lorenz. “This vast carbon inventory is an important window into the geology and climate history of Titan.”

At a balmy minus 179ยบ C , Titan is a far cry from Earth. Instead of water, liquid hydrocarbons in the form of methane and ethane are present on the moon's surface, and tholins probably make up its dunes. The term ‘tholins’ was coined by Carl Sagan in 1979 to describe the complex organic molecules at the heart of prebiotic chemistry.

Cassini has mapped about 20% of Titan's surface with radar. Several hundred lakes and seas have been observed, with each of several dozen estimated to contain more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth's oil and gas reserves. The dark dunes that run along the equator contain a volume of organics several hundred times larger than Earth's coal reserves....MORE