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Andrew Alden

The Smell of Crude Oil

By October 27, 2009

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crude oilBoth of the first two comments on my post yesterday, about smells in rocks, referred to petroleum. I think it should be on the geologist's life list to visit a natural petroleum seep. Oddly, neither of the two efforts to compile a "top 100" list (Lisa Rossbacher's or Callan Bentley's) includes that experience. To remedy that, I have two different photo tours of petroleum-related sites. Crude oil doesn't smell like tar or gasoline; it's sweeter and softer. It doesn't smell like it would damage your lungs with long exposure. If you ever find yourself driving through an oil field, pull over, get out and sniff the breeze.

Expose yourself to petroleum:
The McKittrick seep
The Lakeview gusher site
The Davis-Schrimpf seep field
Survey of fossil fuels
Crude oil, Santa Barbara, Calif. — Courtesy Matt Cohen, all rights reserved

Comments

October 28, 2009 at 9:11 am
(1) caernst says:

Would love to go on a group tour with a geologist to guide group…US, or anywhere in world… Does anyone do that?

October 28, 2009 at 12:14 pm
(2) Geology Guide says:

You can start here.

October 28, 2009 at 2:11 pm
(3) Lockwood says:

The “top 100″ list was the theme of the Accretionary Wedge last February, and one of my contributions was
“See fossil fuel leaking from the earth at a natural seep or vent.” Natural gas does have a slight petroliferous odor, though methane in its pure form is odorless.

October 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm
(4) Geology Guide says:

There you go — great minds think alike.

October 30, 2009 at 9:23 pm
(5) Howard says:

There are natural sour gas (H2S) seeps in the Moose Dome Creek area of the Rockies, west of Calgary. Gets quite ripe at times, especially when there’s no wind, and the whole valley stinks of it. Shell Oil, which owns gas wells in the area, has posted signs advising hikers that the sour gas smell is natural and does NOT come from their operations–presumably people have called them in the past to complain.

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