Oil in Less Than a Century?

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Originally published in Creation 12, no 4 (September 1990): 29.

How long does it take oil to form? Centuries? Thousands of years? Millions of years? Architect Hans Timmers, of Maleny, a town in Queensland, Australia, told us of the following experience.

About 1978, he was architect and project manager for the construction of a new block of housing units in a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland. Those involved in the project were excavating for footings, and digging a trench about 18 metres (60 feet) long and a metre (three feet) wide.

As they dug, they realized that the material they were going through did not have the characteristics of long-term compacted soil, but that of ‘fill’. Later they found out that the site being excavated had been a small gully, subsequently filled in.

At a depth of about four metres (12 feet), they came upon a layer of a dark oily liquid, about eight to 10 centimetres (three to four inches) deep and extending along the length of the trench. It contained some scraps of what appeared to be decomposed leather. After investigating they found that some 80–90 years ago a leatherworks was located on a small adjacent hill, and the scrap leather from it was regularly cast into the gully. About 80 years ago the company closed and the gully was filled in, burying several years of accumulated leather scraps.

When asked how he knew it was oil, Mr Timmers chuckled and said, ‘I’ve been around long enough to know what oil is when I see it.’ It was brown-black, and did not give off any organic, ‘rotting’ smell. Since they had been digging down the centre of a V-shaped gully, one of the two ‘wedges’ of the fill left on either side, made unstable by the layer of oil underneath, gave way and slid into the trench they had dug. The attempt to pour the footings in this way was abandoned, and the oil, which was the object of much astonished discussion among the workers, was not exposed again.

It cannot now be sampled, but if indeed it was oil derived from the leather, there is nothing very scientifically remarkable about this. Eighty years is a very long time for a physicochemical reaction to take place, given the right ingredients and conditions. The thousands of years that have passed since the great Flood are in fact a vast age of time, if one ignores the brainwashing of our culture that insists otherwise.

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