We have already published an article about the definition of a mineral, and two of the properties were that a mineral must be solid and inorganic. There is one material which is always included as a mineral, however, which does not follow the rule. We have mentioned it before. Can you guess what it is? Let’s know detail about which mineral comes from animals and plants.
The mineral to which we are referring is correctly called petroleum from the Greek petra meaning a rock and the Latin oleum meaning oil. Petroleum is the name given to all the materials which occur in nature and are known chemically as hydrocarbons. This means that they are composed of combinations of carbon and hydrogen.
These materials may be gases, such as the natural gas which now supplies some of the domestic gas in Britain. There are also liquid oils from which we obtain our vital petrol (or gasoline as it is known in the United States).
From the way in which the question is worded, and from what you have read so far, you will have guessed that the mineral that comes from animals and plants is, in fact, petroleum. Actually, many different original have been suggested for this mineral.
They have included the ideas that petroleum has been produced by the chemical reaction, from volcanoes, and from the decay of land plants. But the evidence that has been gathered at an enormous rate because of the economic importance of oil has shown that none of these ideas is likely to be correct.
It is much more probable that oil was formed (and is still being formed today) from the decay of tiny marine plants and animals such as algae and the one-celled diatoms.
The two most important conditions for the formation of petroleum are the activities of certain bacteria and time. It is very important to remember that petroleum products take millions of years to form and concentrate into quantities which can be worked.
But in 100 years we have consumed a large proportion of the world’s oil reserves. Oil, then, formed as tiny droplets among the particles of muddy sediments at the bottom of the sea where the water was stagnant and there was little air.
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