Experiments have shown that water and oil reserves could have formed during the same non-biological process taking place on the young Earth.
The origin of water on Earth remains largely a mystery. As a rule, it is believed that most of it was brought by comets and meteorites born in the outer regions of the solar system, behind its “snow line”, where the temperature is quite low, and volatile compounds are able to crystallize. An ancient bombardment with such bodies could have sprayed water on Earth.
On the other hand, this picture has not yet been finally proven, and it is too early to discount other mechanisms: in particular, the possibility of the formation of water molecules within the “snow line” or even directly on the planet. And here and there, in the early stages of the life of the solar system, organic matter was present, and it could well become the source of this water. Such conclusions were reached by scientists from Hokkaido University, whose article was published in Scientific Reports.
The authors conducted laboratory experiments, reproducing a set of organic substances that are naturally formed in the interstellar medium under the influence of radiation from water, ammonia, and carbon oxides. They were placed in conditions of gradually increasing temperature and pressure. It was found that at a temperature of about 200 ° C the samples were divided into two phases, and about 350 ° C the first water droplets appeared in them, which increased with further heating. At 400 ° C, in addition to them, black inclusions of oily substances were formed in the samples.
Spectral analysis confirmed that transparent droplets consist of almost pure water, while black oil droplets are close in composition to oil. “This shows that the source of water on Earth may be interstellar matter within the snow line,” Japanese scientists say. “Moreover, the abiotic pattern of oil formation that we observed could have created much richer deposits than previously thought”.