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Fossil Fuels and Minerals Essay

Fossil fuels are basically hydrocarbons that are found within the uppermost of the crust of the Earth. These fuels can come in different types which include volatile materials or substances with little carbon to hydrogen ratio such as liquid petroleum and methane as well as other non volatile substance or materials that are composed of nearly pure carbon such as anthracite coal, among others (Britannica Encyclopedia, 2008). Volatile materials such as methane are sourced from fields of hydrocarbon and it can either be coupled with oil, as a methane clathrate or in singular form.

The most widely accepted theory of the origin of fossil fuels is that they were formed from the fossil remains of dead animals and plants by millions of years of exposure to the pressure and heat within the Earth’s crust, which is known as the biogenic theory (Britannica Encyclopedia, 2008). Moreover, according to this theory, during the prehistoric times, the fossil fuel petroleum came from the algae and zooplankton, which were found in massive amounts in the bottom of lakes or the seas that have decreased oxygen content (Britannica Encyclopedia, 2008).

In addition, based on the theory, after time passed, mud mixed with the organic matter in the bottom of the seas and lakes were submerged under huge layers of sediment. Heat and pressure then cause this organic matter to transform during a process called diagenesis, into a material called kerogen, which is waxy in nature. Upon exposure to more heat, the kerogen is then further transformed into gas hydrocarbons through cataganesis (Britannica Encyclopedia, 2008). Minerals, on the other hand, are also found within the Earth’s crust on the surface.

However, they are naturally occurring solids that have a highly atomic arrangement and a characteristic and definite chemical composition (Britannica Encyclopedia, 2008). Basically, minerals are classified and formed depending on their chemical group. These groups include Oxides, Halides, Elements, Sulfides, Carbonates, Borates, Tungstates, Silicates, molybdates, Arsenates, Phosphates, Vanadates, Sulfates, Chromates, and Nitrates (Minerals. net, 2000). 2. Describe how at least one fossil fuel and mineral is formed from its source or sources. One example of a fossil fuel is coal.

Historically, coals originate from plant matter, specifically, terrestrial plants. The process of converting plant matter into coal is called coalification, which usually spans over millions of years while the layers of peat, which are biogenic sediments that come from the compaction and accumulation and plant remains from swamps and bogs, are buried and compressed by the sediments. Coalification usually begins with a swamp that is thick with remains of organic vegetation. After this organic matter decomposes, it is further buried by more sediments and vegetation. Through this process, the plant matter then transforms into peat.

This thickness of sediments then continues to increase over time and this applies higher temperature and increased pressure on the organic layer. As a result, a lot of volatile components and water are expelled. Over time, as more pressure and heat are applied, a certain layer of peat is then converted into coal. The thickness of this layer is decreased by 90 per cent and most of its previously volatile components disappear. This ultimately leads to a great concentration of carbon, which is its main heat source. On the other hand, minerals can be formed through a variety of ways and are classified based on the way they were concentrated.

For example, sphalerite, which is a zinc mineral; galena, which is a lead mineral; and chalcopyrite, which is a copper mineral, are all formed through a hydrothermal process. These three minerals are usually found in veins that were formed after water, which was volcanically heated, made its way up and created a fracture in the andesite surrounding an area. In addition, carbonate minerals are found in the marine areas where dead plankton’s shells submerge and subsequently accumulate on the floors of the sea or the ocean.

Carbonates can also undergo two processes, precipitation and dissolution, which results in the formation of minerals such as stalagmites and stalactites, among others.

References Britannica Encyclopedia. (2008). Fossil Fuel. Retrieved July 12, 2008 from http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/214545/fossil-fuel. Britannic Encyclopedia. (2008). Mineral. Retrieved July 12, 2008 from http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/383675/mineral. Mineral. net. (2000). What is a Mineral. Retrieved July 12, 2008 from http://www. minerals. net/resource/what_is_. htm.


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