Reef into Oil

Handcut Smithbilt hat, Sharpie marker, 2010

Over 300 to 400 million years ago, in the Devonian epoch, Alberta was mostly covered by expanding and receding seas. In these shallow seas, tropical reefs formed. Tiny marine organisms, algae and sponges used carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere to build their calcium carbonate structures. In ten million years, they formed a ten kilometre thick bed of rock.
In the following millions of years, the ancient plant- and reef-animals have decomposed, have been buried and have been cooked by the earth’s heat into the black fluid we call oil. The ancient fossilised reefs are highly porous and they serve as important oil reservoirs in many parts of the world.
The fossil oil, which has taken tens of millions of years to form, is now being consumed by humans in a few hundreds of years. By consuming the oil rapidly we release the massive amount of carbon, which was sequestered by Devonian marine-creatures, back into the atmosphere. This affects our climate.
The current, living reefs are severely affected by climate change. Rise of temperature, increasing acidity of the oceans and increased pollution has caused three quarters of the world’s reefs to decline, die or bleach.

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