Did Natural Gas Take Millions of Years to Form? | The Institute for Creation Research
Did Natural Gas Take Millions of Years to Form?

Coal, oil, and natural gas are precious earth materials that are used to power many modern human activities. It is commonly believed that these "fossil fuels" formed over millions of years after plant and animal remains were buried and then subjected to tremendous pressures. But how well-grounded is this popular position?

A recent article titled "Natural gas: A modern fuel millions of years in the making" reported that the refined gas used in barbecue grills "marks the last step in a process that began more than 500 million years ago."1

But that's not so. Natural gas can be produced by adding heat and water to brown coal. Underground gas and oil, mixed with water, rise from a heated coal deposit until they are either trapped by an overlying rock formation or emerge at the earth's surface. Converting this coal to liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons does not take much time, nor does the upward migration of such material. So where is the evidence that points to millions of years?

In an exhaustive 2009 book, geologist Andrew Snelling summarized experiments that were performed on coal from Australia's Gippsland Basin. He wrote, "Brown coals from the onshore part of the basin were heated under conditions that simulated accelerated sedimentary burial conditions." This produced "liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons from the contained waxes, and leaf, pollen, and spore cuticles, all in a matter of two to five days."2 These hydrocarbons were identical to those harvested offshore, where they had been trapped above the coals from which they must have originated.

Some coal is being converted to oil and natural gas even now, and it is not taking millions of years.

Snelling also pointed to California's Kettleman Hills, where the natural gas is trapped between Miocene layers and overlying Pleistocene deposits. Both of these are Ice Age deposits that biblical creationists think formed after the Flood roughly 4,500 years ago. But even based on the evolutionary age assignment of 100,000 years for this Pleistocene oil, a 1967 textbook on petroleum concluded, "The time it takes for oil to accumulate into pools may be geologically short, the minimum being measured, possibly, in thousands or even hundreds of years."3

Oil and gas form in days, and they migrate through sedimentary strata to form pools in thousands of years or fewer. Where are the presumed millions of years supposed to fit in this timeline? Articles such as the one listed above present eons-long fossil fuel formation as undisputed fact. But both science and the Bible indicate that oil and gas were not "millions of years in the making," but are only thousands of years old.

Nothing of what is known about oil and gas formation requires or even suggests vast time spans.

References

  1. Frangou, C. Natural gas: A modern fuel millions of years in the making. Troy Media. Posted on troymedia.com July 27, 2011, accessed August 1, 2011.
  2. Snelling, A. A. 2009. Earth's Catastrophic Past. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 973.
  3. Levorsen, A. I. 1967. The Geology of Petroleum, 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: W. H. Freeman and Company, 540, in Snelling, A. A. 2009. Earth's Catastrophic Past. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 975-976.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on August 8, 2011.

The Latest
NEWS
Support Creation Ministry in Texas and Beyond
ICR scientists and support staff recently completed a two-week science expedition through the Great Plains and western mountain states to conduct scientific...

NEWS
Great Unconformity Best Solved by Global Flood
The Great Unconformity is one of the most baffling mysteries in the geological sciences.1 It is marked by a massive surface of erosion that...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update–Dinosaur Fossils
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Begins!
The Institute for Creation Research launched its 2021 multistate science expedition last week as a nine-member team left the ICR headquarters in Dallas,...

NEWS
Inside September 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR focus on scientific research? How could paleontologists mistake a lizard fossil for a dinosaur? Is animal death before the Fall theologically...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Beauty by Design
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
Defend Your Faith with ICR
Have you ever heard a pastor question the historical nature of Genesis? “The days of creation weren’t really 24 hours long. The Bible is...

ACTS & FACTS
Animal Death Before the Fall?
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that death entered the world when Adam ate the forbidden fruit (e.g., Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12). Since fossils...

APOLOGETICS
Transmitting Truth in a Modern Pagan World
We share the world with modern pagans who worship the sun—or idolize an imagined primordial Big Bang—so we need to be truth witnesses unto...