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Title: Marine oil seeps

Petroleum hydrocarbons of both biogenic and thermogenic origin are common constituents of the marine water column and sediment of the continental shelves. Approximately 0.25 million metric tons of oil per year, constituting about 8% of the oil input into the sea, is derived from natural seeps, the rest being anthropogenic. Seepage has occurred world-wide for millions of years and must have been many times greater in the past, when enormous oil deposits, such as the Orinoco Oil Belt, were first exposed to erosion. Although the amount varies from site to site with time, seepage is pervasive in polar and temperate seas. Marine-seep oil is intensely weathered and thus can be distinguished chemically from recent biogenic or undegraded crude oil. The degraded oil from seeps appears to have little deleterious effect on many marine organisms, which ingest and discharge the oil mostly unmetabolized. Chemical analyses suggest that a very large oil-rich layer in the Sargasso Sea originated from a large and as yet undetected seep. Oil seeps have long been used as guides for oil exploration onshore but have been underutilized for this purpose offshore because of oil-plume drift from the site of the seep and because natural oil slicks maymore » be masked by spilled oil. At least one marine seep, in the Santa Barbara Channel, California, is producing oil and natural gas into two hollow steel pyramids from which the oil is collected by work boats and the natural gas is transported to shore by pipeline. This facility effectively reduces atmospheric pollution, controls marine oil pollution from the largest seep in the area, provides emission credits, and yields a modest economic benefit, but the seep is not known to have been used directly in oil exploration.« less
Authors:
 [1]
  1. (U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA (United States))
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
7079611
Report Number(s):
CONF-910403--
Journal ID: ISSN 0149-1423; CODEN: AABUD
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AAPG Bulletin (American Association of Petroleum Geologists); (United States); Journal Volume: 75:3; Conference: Annual meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Dallas, TX (United States), 7-10 Apr 1991
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
02 PETROLEUM; CALIFORNIA; PETROLEUM DEPOSITS; GEOCHEMICAL SURVEYS; CONTINENTAL SHELF; EXPLOITATION; EXPLORATION; OFFSHORE SITES; SEAWATER; SEEPS; WATER CHEMISTRY; CHEMISTRY; CONTINENTAL MARGIN; DEVELOPED COUNTRIES; GEOLOGIC DEPOSITS; HYDROGEN COMPOUNDS; MINERAL RESOURCES; NORTH AMERICA; OXYGEN COMPOUNDS; RESOURCES; SURVEYS; USA; WATER 020200* -- Petroleum-- Reserves, Geology, & Exploration