When Do Rocks Become Oil?

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Science  27 May 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5726, pp. 1267-1268
DOI: 10.1126/science.1113158

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Despite the central role of petroleum products in today's society, our understanding of how oil and gas form and are trapped in large petroleum systems is limited. In his Perspective, Schaefer describes new work (Selby and Creaser) that used an innovative radiogenic technique to date when hydrocarbons migrated and accumulated within a large petroleum system in Alberta, Canada. Broader application of the technique may provide insight into where and when oil is likely to accumulate.