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Oil a natural lubrication for Earths tectonic plates

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 627 ✭✭✭ JeffK88


    Ive had this theory for quite some time and not sure if there is any scientific evidence for it that Oil is a natural lubrication for the Earths tectonic plates. Could it be possible that we have extracted so much of it that it has led to larger earthquakes and other events which have been happening more frequently. I know people say earthquakes happen all the time and just in recent times with internet and 24hour news channels we hear more about such events.
    But what do people think ?


Comments



  • Are earthquakes really becoming more frequent though? Any variation in global frequency of earthquakes over a timescale of a few decades is not very significant. The earth has been tectonically active for billions of years.

    I don't think the theory is runner I'm afraid but I commend you're inquisitive nature. Also, don't take my word for it. If I were you I'd look at data from a particular plate boundary where oil has been extracted. See if the data agrees with you're hypothesis.




  • If you look at the distribution of known oil reserves, like here:

    who-has-the-oil.jpg

    And compare that to the locations of earthquakes, like here:

    earthquake.gif

    You can see that there is little in the way of correlation.

    That said, there is a lot of discussion ongoing at the moment about the effect of hydraulic fracturing (or Fracking) on subsurface conditions, with some pointing to links between fracking and the incidence of small shallow earthquakes. In this case it seems to be the addition of lubricant (i.e. water) which could be causing this, rather than the removal of it.




  • JeffK88 wrote: »
    Ive had this theory for quite some time and not sure if there is any scientific evidence for it that Oil is a natural lubrication for the Earths tectonic plates. Could it be possible that we have extracted so much of it that it has led to larger earthquakes and other events which have been happening more frequently. I know people say earthquakes happen all the time and just in recent times with internet and 24hour news channels we hear more about such events.
    But what do people think ?

    I doubt it buddy. Oil is generally extracted at a much, much shallower depth than earthquakes occur at.

    Oil is held in the pore spaces generally, and isn't particularly flowing freely around the place.

    Your thesis seems to imply (correct me if I'm wrong) that without oil, plates would be slipping past each other without a rumble? Plate movement without earthquakes has never, to the best of my knowledge, been recorded.




  • I just cant accept that oil serves no natural purpose . Pretty much everything else does. Considering life has been on the earth for very little of its history perhaps then its purpose serves something for life on earth ??




  • JeffK88 wrote: »
    I just cant accept that oil serves no natural purpose . Pretty much everything else does. Considering life has been on the earth for very little of its history perhaps then its purpose serves something for life on earth ??

    What do you mean? It's inanimate, it doesn't have to serve a purpose. Unless you're coming at this from a creationist viewpoint, in which case I will have to excuse myself from the conversation because I prefer the fantasy stories of Tolkien and Glen Cook.


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  • I do not believe in the creationist ideas at all and that is not what i mean at all




  • I like the thought of it, but I'm not sure I can believe that oil would prevent an earthquake, I think the reason that there may seem to be more earthquakes is that communication around the world has increased not the number of earthquakes...IMO




  • JeffK88 wrote: »
    I do not believe in the creationist ideas at all and that is not what i mean at all

    OK, glad to hear it. I still don't get your reasoning regarding oil serving a purpose. I'm not sure why it needs a purpose? It's just part of a cycle. It'll either turn to gas and eventually escape its trap, stay as oil and escape or get buried further and get re-constituted into other minerals. This could happen over a timescale of tens, or even hundreds of millions years.

    What purpose does quartz have? Or mica?

    We've kind of gone off track here, but while trying not to sound arrogant or closed-minded, there really is no chance that what you've suggested is the case. Sorry.





  • I think the lava in the earths core is what the tectonic plates move on,

    Not to be pedantic, but this is a misconception I'm always quick to correct. The plates are parts of the lithospheric mantle which is virtually all solid. Solid state convection moves the plates. The mantle is solid but flows like a plastic on a very large scale.




  • JeffK88 wrote: »
    I just cant accept that oil serves no natural purpose . Pretty much everything else does. Considering life has been on the earth for very little of its history perhaps then its purpose serves something for life on earth ??

    Not sure if I would agree with you on the life issue - life has been here for at least 3.5 billion years and most likely much earlier. It might even have started as soon as liquid water appeared on the earths surface. Of course that could possibly mean that oil has been around for billions of years also but I still can't see a connection between oil reserves and tectonics.


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