Hydrides and Anhydrides
C. Warren Hunt
1119 Sydenham Road SW
CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA T2T 0T5
Tel. (403)-244-3341, Fax (403) 244-2834
E-mail: [email protected]
Hydrogen being 90% or more of all matter in the Universe, must have been abundantly present in the formation of the early earth. The consensus among scientists has been that most primordial hydrogen was expelled as the earth accreted. New evidence challenges the consensus raises questions as to the validity of other long-held geological concepts.
The new evidence involves the behavior of hydrogen nucleii, which at pressures characteristic of mantle depths have shed their electrons and inject themselves inside the first electron rings of metal atoms. Thus sequestered within the earth, hydrogen may comprise as much as 30-40 percent of total earth mass today.
Hydrogen penetration into metals was demonstrated by Vladimir N. Larin, a geologist, whose project over the last 34 years has been research in the USSR and FSU on sources of natural hydrogen. Three major effects result from the phenomenon: (1) transmutation, (2) densification, and (3) fluidization.
The following diagram from Larin’s laboratory illustrates the mass that is added to transmuted potassium by hydrogen gas at pressure. The lower curve shows a 2.75% increase in density for the metal alone, rising from ~0.87 to ~2.4 g/cm3 and pressure up to ~30 Gpa. The upper curve shows a 4.25% increase in density of the metal in a hydrogen atmosphere, from ~0.87 to ~3.7 g/cm3 with the same pressure increase. Note the four distinct stages. The stages ascending are:
- COVALENT ADSORPTION of H by K metal with DENSIFICATION from ~0,87 to ~1.65 g/cm3, nearly doubling the density without any pressure increase. The metal “sucks up” hydrogen.
- INTRA-LATTICE ADSORPTION of H by K metal with DENSIFICATION from ~1.65 to ~2.0 g/cm3 with pressure rising from zero to 5 Gpa; hydrogen retains its electron.
- INTRA-LATTICE OCCLUSION of H by K metal with DENSIFICATION from ~2.0 to ~2.35 g/cm3 without further pressure increase; hydrogen sheds its electron.
- IONIC HYDRIDE where H nucleus penetrates the potassium atomic electron shell, thus effecting metal DENSIFICATION from ~2.35 to ~3.7 g/cm3 with a pressure increase from 5 Gpa to ~30 Gpa. Addition of mass to an atomic core is by definition transmutation. Thus, this stage transmutes potassium to intermetal.
Of the total densification to 4.25 times original density, 40% is in the two spontaneous densification stages, 1 and 3. Stage 4 comprises a further 48% of the densification, the nucleus-injection stage and transmutation stage. Its upper limit is unknown.
From this data it is easily shown that the excess core and mantle density above that of the crust can be attributed to injected hydrogen, and the density differences between inner core, outer core, and lower mantle can be treated as phase effects. In this scenario the idea of an iron core is superfluous.
V.N. Larin demonstrated the fluidity of titanium hydride for this writer by setting a ruby in plasticized titanium intermetal. Under reduced pressure the hydrogen bled off, allowing the metal to recrystallize and leave the ruby set firmly in metallic titanium.
The potassium and titanium behaviors are not unique. All elements but noble gases form hydrides, some readily, others not so readily. Thus, a mixture of non-metal hydrides and fluidic intermetals that comprised the interior of the primordial earth should undergo fractionation and coalescense of components on the basis of mobility and density differences.
Non-metal hydrides, H2O, NH3, H2S, CH4, that were present during accretion of the earth would have been the first to go. Expelled, they accumulated as atmosphere and hydrosphere. Solar wind bombardment and dissociation of non-metal hydrides allowed hydrogen to escape into space. This left residual oxygen and nitrogen to build up in the atmosphere, which then enabled a transformation in the biosphere. Replacement of the early Archean biota of hydrogen-tolerant prokaryotes by oxygen-tolerant eukaryotes in the late Archean is clear evidence of the conversion of the atmosphere at that time.
Intermetal hydride plumes would follow. Coalescing on the bases of differential fluidity and density, viscous intermetal plumes rise buoyantly through the mantle, perhaps lubricated by hydrides of the earth’s third most abundant element, the transition element, silicon. Rising into regimes of reduced pressure the intermetals dissociate or oxidize, creating crust in the forms of rock-forming minerals and metal ores.
The hydrides of silicon, the silanes (SiH4, Si2H6, Si3H8, Si4H10, etc.) are of special interest. Gases at standard conditions, they react vigorously with water, producing quartz, volcanic ash, and rock-forming minerals, depending on depth, pressure and the admixture of other metal hydrides. The high mobility of silane explains the mode of transfer of silicon from the interior to the oxidic crust. Crust then is the residue after silane and intermetal oxidation and release of hydrogen, which eventually escapes into space.
Carbon, the sister element of silicon, is a lesser component of earth makeup, but probably is prominent in the form of carbides in the interior. Its primary hydride form, methane (CH4), although energy-laden like silane, behaves quite differently in three important contrasting ways. First, it does not react with water; second, its combustion products are only gases; and third, it enables the biosphere.
Where silane is stalled in the crust by reacting with water, methane and hydrogen released by its partial oxidation proceed upward in fracture pathways. Methane and hydrogen seep into deep, shield mines and through porous members of sedimentary series. Both are major constituents of fluid inclusions in sub-oceanic basalts as well as in shield granites. Their migration is differentially impeded due to their different molecular sizes. Methane may be trapped temporarily, while hydrogen escapes. Both enter the atmosphere worldwide on a large scale.
Thus the hydridic earth image comprises a mobile inner geosphere of highly-reduced, dense, intermetals and carbides, an outer geosphere of oxidic rock that has accumulated incrementally through geological time, and a transient liquid-gas envelope. The image implies a core that is neither iron nor very hot, because the heat source for endogeny is primarily not primordial heat but the chemical energy released in the upper mantle and lower crust, near the crust-mantle boundary by hydride oxidation.
Hydrocarbons other than methane are partially oxidized carbon forms, and thus unlikely to occur in any form but methane in the earth’s interior where extreme reducing conditions prevail. When methane rises to outer crust levels from the interior, its chemical energy is available to metabolize bacteria and archaea that live there in total darkness at elevated temperatures. They get that energy by stripping hydrogen from the methane and oxidizing it metabolically.
When bacteria and archaea strip hydrogen from methane, they create “anhydrides” of methane, CH3, CH2, etc. Two CH3s combine to make C2H6, ethane; two CH3s and one CH2 make C3H8, propane, etc. The process is known on the surface, where outcrops of petroliferous strata sometimes are sealed by bacterially produced tar seals behind which live oil has accumulated. In this case, bacteria have stripped hydrogen from live oil, rendering it immobile. Anhydride theory merely extrapolates the process backward to explain stripping of methane, the lowest carbon numbered hydrocarbon. Petroleum can be interpreted as degenerated methane, a product of the biosphere. Petroleum produced by bacterial stripping of methane is, a mixture of anhydrides of methane, an organic product produced from inorganic methane.
Coal and oil shales are also anhydride products. In peat and kerogen-rich shales, partially oxidized carbon is present that has lost electrons and thus carries positive charges. By contrast, the carbon in methane that effuses from the highly reduced earth interior has acquired electrons and is negatively charged. Opposite charges cause capture of effusing methane by peat and kerogen. Once captured, methane is stripped progressively of its hydrogen by bacteria and archaea that naturally occur in the peat and kerogen.
The terminal anhydride, pure carbon, the main component of the purest coals and asphaltites, and protein molecules (porphyrins and others) that are found in petroleum and coal are molecular residues of organic origin. The fact that coal and oil shales have more carbon and hydrogen than their peat and fossil predecessors is clear evidence that fossils cannot fully explain their origins. These high carbon and hydrogen contents of oil shales and coals require abiogenic additions, whereas organic molecules require organic provenance. Methane and petroleum found in coal seams and organic shales should be seen as evidence of methane capture, not methane generation.
The topology of petroleum occurrence is a further defeat for the argument in favour of either an exclusively organic or exclusively abiogenic origin for petroleum. If oil were either rising from primordial sources in the earth’s interior or created in “oil windows” by catagenesis, the more mobile fractions would escape from the depths and be found more abundantly near the surface and less mobile fractions, low gravity oils, would be present at depth. Exactly the opposite is the norm. Methane gas, the most mobile hydrocarbon, is more abundant with depth, worldwide; and tars, the least mobile, are most abundant at and near the surface.
Working backwards through the above points, we can say that:
- Topologies of hydrocarbon occurrences indicate that methane effuses from the interior, not petroleum; that
- Topologies of hydrocarbon occurrences indicate that low-gravity oil is not generated at depth in oil windows; that
- Methane beneficiates fossiliferous shales and peat deposits, creating oil shales and coal. Oil shales and coal do not generate methane; methane generates oil shales and coal; that
- Bacteria and archaea in the outer crust strip hydrogen from methane progressively through condensates, high gravity oil, and low gravity oil, to bitumens; that
- Hydrides of silicon and carbon along with intermetals rise into crustal levels where dissociation and oxidation liberate the heat of endogeny and deposit rock-forming minerals, and metal deposits, leaving only methane and hydrogen to effuse into the atmosphere; that
- Nonmetal hydrides escaping from the interior of the primordial earth created a reducing atmosphere that was changed over to oxygen-rich by the loss of hydrogen to space; and that
- The discovery that hydrogen nuclei under pressure penetrate atomic shells of metals, transmuting the metals to intermetals, densifying them, and fluidizing them, creates an entirely new geological picture of the earth’s interior, of endogeny, and of the mode by which the crust was created.
Figure 1. Density Variations in Potassium (K) and its Hydride (KH) Over Wide Ranges of Pressure.