Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why No Oil Wells Off Oregon's Coast?

Simple answer: no oil. There's some minor gas, both offshore and on (with commercial development at Mist, as a minor producer and as a storage site). The gas was thought by Allan Niem, my first term geo prof, and a sedimentary petrologist specializing on the Oregon Coast Range, to have resulted from "cooking" of organic-rich sediments by re-intrusion of Columbia River Basalts into the unconsolidated mud, silt and sand. As a result, gas is not abundant, and is spotty in its occurrence- Mist is the only producing gas field in Oregon.

For oil you need several factors that come together. First you need an organic-rich source rock. Second you need an appropriate thermal history- the sediment needs to be heated and held at 60 to 120 degrees Celsius- the so-called "oil window." Third, you need a reservoir rock- a porous and permeable rock that can store the petroleum; this is typically a sandstone or fragmental limestone. And fourth, you need a trap. The reservoir must be overlain by rocks that don't permit further upward migration of gas and oil, and the two units must be oriented in such a way that oil and gas won't migrate to the surface and be lost.

I suspect Oregon is fine with respect to the first and fourth factors there. The third I'm really not sure about- we have plenty of sandstone, but a lot of it is full of clay. There's some porosity, but I'm guessing permeability is pretty poor. But the killer is the thermal history- few of the coast range rocks have ever been hot enough to generate oil. I suspect there are plenty of potential source materials- particularly in the northern portion, where there is a higher mud to sand ratio, I'd be surprised if there weren't structures that would be appropriate for trapping oil, I'm really not sure about the quality of potential reservoir rocks, but the cooking just hasn't been there.

So that's the answer to this specious little bit of sanctimony in today's OregonLive:
As we all know, drilling for oil off the Oregon coast didn't happen. I don't really know why. Today I can't seem to find anyone who remembers anything about the issue. Whatever the reason, it was a victory for the Oregon coast. Oregon's drilling scheme died in 1981 and seemed buried for all time when Congress banned drilling for oil and gas in offshore waters.
I'm curious if Mr. Love has a car, and how many miles he drives per year. Two Sundays ago, I got into a car for the first time in a year and a half... and it was with a twinge of regret and guilt. Once again, I was just as guilty as the author and everyone else for the ongoing disaster in Louisiana.

Oregon's lack of oil wells is no victory of environmental consciousness. "Drilling for oil off the Oregon coast didn't happen" because there's no oil there. The only real conclusion I can draw from this op-ed, which concludes, "Do we ever learn anything from our history in this country?" is no, we really don't. And that extends to op-ed writers who pointedly note their ignorance even as they assert some opinion on subjects of which they are ignorant.

The Dead Can't Drive

The only way this could be better was if it had happened on Halloween:
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A car full of people dressed as zombies crashed on Interstate 84 near downtown Portland on Friday, causing initial confusion by people who witnessed the crash.
Sgt. Greg Stewart said people who witnessed the crash initially thought the victims' injuries were much more serious, because of the zombie costumes.

"We're glad that everyone is alive, despite being 'undead'," Sgt. Stewart said, referring to the costumes.
Five people were taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, and reports suggest there may have been other passengers who fled the scene on foot, lumbering away, moaning, "braaaaiins..."


Men at Work, Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive:

These guys were in the news this week; they were found to have plagiarized some licks from the famous Australian song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." They have been ordered to pay 5% royalties on their song "Land Down Under." Fair is fair, I suppose, but Kookaburra is 70 years old... at what point does a song become public domain? I know I sang it in elementary school, 45 or so years ago. Do I have to pay royalties too?

Cyndi Lauper, She Bop:

One of my favorite music trivia questions is "Who sings back-up vocals in Dire Staits' song Money for Nothing?" Answer in comments...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Call For Posts: Accretionary Wedge #26

Dave Bressan (History of Geology and Cryology and Co.) and Michael Welland (Through the Sandglass) have put out a call for posts for the July Accretionary Wedge. The introspective topic this month is the role of the geoblogosphere in geology:

The Geoblogosphere comprises and gathers every day the newest articles from more then 200 blogs (and still counting) dealing with the most various earth related themes, ranging from geological excursions, sharing field experiences, philosophizing about earth sciences, life and art, media coverage and daily rock encounters to discussion of the newest scientific discoveries on this planet and others. So philosophizing around (geo)blogging with Dr. Welland many questions raised:

- like how bloggeology can “impact” society and “real geology,” should and can we promote the “geoblogosphere,” and are blogs private “business” or public affairs, and institutions underevaluating the possibilities given by this new method of communication?

Taking the liberty of paraphrasing, I interpret this to be asking what role the geoblogosphere should play going forward. Should it have a role in disseminating research? Should geoblogging be factored into academic- or business- employees’ evaluations? Can, and how should, the expertise and enthusiasm of geobloggers be harnessed to effectively reach and educate the broader public? In short (again, as I interpret the issue), what do you see as the purpose of geoblogging and the geoblogosphere?

This promises to be a very interesting question to address, and I expect a tremendous diversity of opinion. Please take some time to offer yours. The deadline is July 29.

(Cross-posted at The Accretionary Wedge)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Waving Hello to Summer

These photos ran at Dark Roasted Blend almost a month ago; I meant to post a couple at the time, but they slid off my radar before I got to them. I'm not the least disappointed. Today is a much more auspicious day to post some refreshing photos. We topped out at 98 today, but it's been quite breezy, so not as miserable as it could be. Also, the dew point is only 48, for a relative humidity of 19%; combined with the breeze, not good, but not bad. The first picture is quite riveting to me due to the sediment transport seen contrasting against the clear water...
...and the second just looks deliciously cool. There are a large number of similar pictures from the same photographer at the link.
Hello, summer!

Wednesday Wednesday

Wednesday Addams meets Frida Kahlo? From "I Wish I Had More Common Senses," a blog I haven't seen before, but whose name is great. Also, double-checking the spelling of the artist's name, I discovered that yesterday was apparently her 103rd birthday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hiatus Interruptus?

The last ten days or so have been pretty brutal... dealing with all sorts of illness, mental and physical, averting eviction, house-sitting three very sweet animals (though one, of the canine persuasion, is profoundly stupid, and yes, Katie, they're all happy and well), dealing with steadily increasing summer temperatures (which always leads to some difficult days at this time of year; all of the next three days are forecast to exceed 95 degree highs), along with stress-and warmth- induced sleep problems. Sorry posting here has been sporadic, but there's not much I could do about it other than warn readers it was coming. It's relatively early yet, but I'm going to do one more pass through my reader, and call it a day. I expect a more standard schedule can be anticpated in days to come. House-sitting concludes Friday.

Heartfelt thanks to siblings and IZ people who've helped me weather this difficult spell.

Tuesday Tits

Bearded tit, Panurus biarmicus.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Sunday Supplement Edition

Following up on yesterday's "Lockwood forgot which day it is" funnies, here are a few more:
Yeah, I came in on the short bus. Sofa Pizza
Internet Bumper Stickers, via Sober in a Nightclub
Pundit Kitchen
Liftoff... in 3... 2... 1... Sofa Pizza
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
"There is no escape." MthruF
Bits and Pieces Again, if you want the full Sunday Funnies effect, you'll need to click over to yesterday's premature e-publication edition.