Photographer: Alvaro Vidal/AFP via Getty Images
Thank Volcanoes From T-Rex Era for America's Oil DominanceBy
Ash was key to getting shale soaked in crude, Rice study shows
Eruptions in Cretaceous helped form basins like Permian
America’s looming dominance in crude production started about 100 million years ago.
Ash from hundreds of volcano flare-ups during the time when the Tyrannosaurus rex roamed North America was key to forming the oil-rich layers of shale rock, from the Permian Basin in Texas to the Bakken in North Dakota, according to a study led by Rice University professor Cin-Ty Lee in Houston.
The energy bounty that pioneers like EOG Resources Inc. started tapping with fracking techniques -- supplies that are now elevating the U.S. to the ranks of the world’s biggest oil producers, rivaling Russia and Saudi Arabia -- probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the high concentration of carbon the volcanoes provided.
Between all those ash-spewing eruptions during the Cretaceous and the development of horizontal drilling, everything has been laid out for U.S. production to surpass 11 million barrels a day by October. That’s how soon the Energy Information Administration expects the milestone to be reached, putting the U.S. at par with top producer Russia.