Seep Oil and Gas in Gulf of Mexico Slope Sediment

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Science  11 Nov 1983:
Vol. 222, Issue 4624, pp. 619-621
DOI: 10.1126/science.222.4624.619


Concentrations in Gulf of Mexico slope sediment of material soluble in methanol and benzene as high as 4.5 percent are shown to be attributable to biodegraded petroleum. Associated carbonate deposits and organic sulfur are the products of the microbial oxidation of petroleum and sulfate reduction. The results of chemical and carbon isotope analyses indicate that high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases, from methane to pentane, are petroleum rather than microbiologically derived. These hydrocarbons, believed to have been produced thermally at depth, probably reached the surface through faults and fractures associated with salt diapirs.