months ago as
was walkingalong the bank of a creek which flowsbeside the old ice pond at my home inVirginia,
was struck by the appear-ance on the water of circles of iridescentcolors such as may be seen on any wetstreet where oil has been dropped froman automobile."Gee-whiz!" said
come up here fromTexas to forget there was such a thingas oil only to find oil springs on my ownplace?"I immediately cut me a sticklong enough to reach the colored patchesand proceeded to test them.
foundindeed that while the colors and circleswere quite similar to those of oil theydid not have the flow of oil circles, butwhen stirred they broke into an~larportions which did not readily reunite.
Was simply a Scum of organic Or fer-ruginous matter-and so
was sparedthe harassing trouble of opening up anew oil field.Oil as it occurs in nature is in realitya
of organic substances, beginning
passingdownwardthrough oils of various gravities toasphalt, asphaltine and carbon.
usually occurs as a mixture of severalgrades of these oils and gases.The questions as to the origin of oiland its manner of formation have bcenwidely discussed without any final agree-
having been reached as to either.We know that volcanoes emit gases ofthe oil series that
these arecondensed into oil, but there is not suf-ficient of this to be of commercialim-portance.
isderived from the decomposition of cer-tain animal and vegetable matters under
Formerly state geologist of Texas and laterconsulting geologist, vice-president and gen-
Southern Pacific Company.
special conditions. At times this decom-position takes place in the open air andthe resulting oil is carried by water andabsorbed by sand beds. At others, itseems that the decomposition, in part atleast, tdces place
the bottoms of verysalty lakes or seas, such as the DeadSea, but the alteration may also takeplace from remains buried in sedimentslaid down in salt-water. Apparentlysalt is a necessary adjunct to the gen-eration of oil, and in some districts theoil is found in direct connection with thesalt.Thus, in the Gulf Coast region ofTexas, almost every oil field is located onthe apex or flanks of a salt dome.These domes are the peaks of deeplyburied mountain ranges, and the oil andgas have in some manner found theirway up the slopes of these ridges andpeaks to porous beds along their flanksor on their tops, where the oil is gath-ered
inch-and held until reached by thedrill, when
bursts out as gushers.
part of this pressure is from the in-eluded gases, but by far the larger partis hydrostatic and due to the accom-panyingThe salt masses of these domes some-times reach, nearly or quite, the f3urfaceof the ground,at Jefferson Island
Louisiana. At others the salt lies atdepths varying f1"om a hundred feet to
thousand feet or more. Some ofthese domes afford great mines of rocksalt.
was in one a few weeks agowhere the salt was being mined from adepth of over five hundred feet, andboring had proved the salt to be in asolid bed three thousand feet below thisand at least
mile in diameter.
The Scientific Monthly
, Vol. 26, No. 6. (Jun., 1928), pp. 541-550