The Sediments of the Earth — are they old?

Age of Rocks

The following guest post was authored by Dr. Willy Fjeldskaar, a petroleum reservoir geologist and an adjunct professor at the University of Stavanger in Norway. He argues that even the temperature of sedimentary layers today provides ample evidence of their great antiquity. When oil companies construct a new well, temperature is measured from the surface to the bottom of the well to create a profile versus depth. This information is valuable to geologists, who use the age of sedimentary layers and their temperature to predict whether oil could have formed. As you might expect, temperature increases with depth, but the gradient depends on two variables: the amount of heat flowing from the upper mantle, and the thermal conductivity of the rock layers. If you place an aluminum pan on a gas burner, the cooking surface heats up almost immediately, because the flame is hot and aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. Conversely, the center of…

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