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Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 11. 1961

A Recent Hypothesis on Petroleum Formation

A Recent Hypothesis on Petroleum Formation

A hypothesis suggesting that the blue haze seen over the world's vegetated areas is actually petroleum in the process of formation has been advanced by an American scientist. The haze is attributed to a layer of asphaltic and bituminous particles created by hundreds of millions of tons of volatile hydrocarbons and near-hydro-carbons expelled into the atmosphere annually by living plants. These particles eventually rain down on earth, and in time form, petroleum. Further, it is suggested that these smog-like particles influence the weather in a variety of ways, and also serve to regulate plant growth. This line of research offers a possible solution to two biochemical mysteries—the fate of plant-produced hydro-carbons and the origin of petroleum. The volatile organic products under investigation include: terpens, such as the volatile fraction of turpentine; carotenoids, which are plant pigments found in carrots, tomatoes, and colourful autumn leaves; and rubber.