Helping humankind live with the earth not against it

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Borealis Meditation – S05E04 Humans and Hydrocarbons

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 4 we are going to discuss the formation of hydrocarbons. Because of their impact on our climate the conversations around hydrocarbons are (rightly) focused on their extraction and impacts from use. However, an important part of the equation is their formation and understanding what they are and where they come from.

An important part of connecting with the world around us comes from understanding where our everyday items come from. General knowledge typically includes wood, metals, and ceramics, but materials like plastics and the fuel that runs our lives are not as well known.

Because the processes that form hydrocarbons are linked to sedimentary processes (the first rock type we are covering) I thought it was important to talk about them on their own.

So do our cars run on dinosaurs?

LIsten here:

Hydrocarbons

What are hydrocarbons? Simply put hydrocarbons are molecules made of carbon and hydrogen atoms. There are a variety of different hydrocarbons that are classified by the number of carbon atoms per molecule. Some of these might even be familiar names
1 methane
2 ethane
3 propane
4 butane
5 pentane
6 hexane
7 heptane
8 octane
9 nonane
10 decane
11 undercane
12 dodcane

When hydrocarbon compounds are burned the carbon is released in the form of carbon dioxide when the released carbon bonds with oxygen.

Formation :
The vast majority of hydrocarbons are either in the form of crude oil, petroleum, coal, or natural gas. To explore the differences in depositional environments we are going to talk about coal and petroleum.

Coal
Coal starts its life in a swamp.

The plant life as it dies builds up within the swamp under the water in an environment low on oxygen. As long as the accumulation of plant material is greater than the decomposition rate, peat can form. Peat is the first step in the formation of coal.

Peat has historically also been an important material in the use of making heat and for cooking. Peat is often cut and dried before use as it can still contain some water content

As the material is subjected to increased pressure and temperature the peat losses its water and begins the transformation to coal. Coal is graded by the amount of metamorphism it has undergone.

The lowest quality is called lignite. Of the types of coal it has the least concentration of carbon at 60-70% and the highest moisture content. It is also called “brown coal” and currently is generally burned for electricity.

Subbituminous coal is coal that has undergone more metamorphism and the pressure and heat has driven off more of the oxygen and hydrogen in the coal giving it a higher carbon content of 71-77 %. It is black but not shiny and is also generally used in electricity generation.

Bituminous coal is the most abundant and is about 50% of the coal production in the US it has a carbon content between 77-87% and is a black and shiny coal but if you look closely you can still see some layering in the rock.

The highest quality coal is anthracite coal. It is hard, brittle, black and shiney. It is considered to be a metamorphic rock and has a carbon content over 87%.

Petroleum
For the coal we were in a swamp. For petroleum the water gets deeper and we are now in a shallow sea.

In these seas lived a variety of organisms. As they die they sink down in the water leaving a layer on the ocean bottom. So just like in the case of coal these layers build up over time except in this situation it is these tiny organisms living in the water column building up over time. Much like with coal there is a lack of oxygen in this environment. Once the layer is covered with sediment and begins to compress it transforms into a substance called kerogen. 

Kerogen is the precursor to oil and gas. With increased pressure and temperature the kerogen can undergo a process called catagenesis which is just the way of saying like the metamorphism of coal the kerogen undergoes changes to become a hydrocarbon. This process usually occurs at up to 1 km depth. 

As the material undergoes further changes continue and take a significant amount of time. There are reactions that occur and change the kerogen into one of two classes, one with a low hydrogen to carbon ratio, and one to a high hydrogen to carbon ratio. 

The formation of oil from kerogen occurs within a specific temperature window. Too cool and it stays as kerogen and too hot and it converts to natural gas.

Where are the major deposits
Because of the specific conditions needed for the formation they do not occur everywhere. In terms of oil there are large deposits that are currently being extracted in the middle east, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, the United States and Canada, Russia, the North Sea, China, Australia, and some areas of Africa.

With smaller fields in places like SE Asia and New Zealand. Like we covered there are very specific conditions needed to form these deposits and specific conditions for them to accumulate in an economically and minable deposit.

Coal exists on every continent but the largest coal reserves are in the US, Russia, China, Australia and India.

“Crystals”
Historically hydrocarbons have not only been used for burning and energy. There are two varieties that you might recognize from the crystal world. These are Shugnite and Jet.

Shungite

Shungite sample (left photo by: Steven Thomas Pearson-Walsh) and commercial product (right)


Shungite gets its name from the village of Shuga in Krelia, Russia. The carbon content can have a wide range from 5-80% and is generally divided into low, medium, and high carbon shugnite.

The name was first used in 1879. It is a type of pyrobitumen and is formed through the polymerization of petroleum over geologic time analogous to the way tree resin turned to amber.

Although originally found and described in Russia there are also deposits described in Austria, India, DRC, and Kazakhstan.

Jet

Jet sample (left photo by: Steven Thomas Pearson-Walsh) and Victorian jewelry (right)

Jet is a type of lignite coal. Remember that this is the lowest grade of coal. The name of get is thought to come from an ancient town of Gagae in modern day Turkey. Several ancient authors mention the stone of gagates that was able to drive away serpents and several other uses. Jet can be soft or hard and that is the main two forms of jet.

Jet has a long history of being used by humans including by the Romans for jewelry. In the medieval period in the west Jet was dominantly used for religious items like crosses and rosary beads. It became very fashionable to have jet jewelry again in the Victorian era.

Call for questions for Extraction
Now that you know how hydrocarbons form we need to talk about their extraction. With a degree in geology I do know a number of people working in the extraction industry.

One of my soap boxes is NIMBYism. Not In My Back Yard. It is important to now how things CAN be extracted because the most responsible way is usually more expensive and when we push extraction out of our backyards it moves to someone else’s where there may be little to no safety or environmental protection.

So please send me comments and questions about the technology and logistics on extraction of hydrocarbons. Send emails and voice notes

Follow me:
Instagram: katborealis
Twitter: KatBorealis
Threads: katborealis
BlueSky: katborealis

Further reading
If you want to learn more I recommend starting here and then branching out on your own further research! If you need some guidance feel free to reach out.

For reading on Deep Time I recommend Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World by Marcia Bjornerud

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrocarbon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum
https://geology.com/rocks/coal.shtml
https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-are-types-coal
https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/petroleum/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shungite
https://www.mindat.org/min-11040.html
https://www.mindat.org/min-35845.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gagae
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_(gemstone)

Borealis Meditation – S05E03 How the Ocean Makes Rocks

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 3 where we talk about some of the ways the ocean can make rocks and minerals.

You can listen to the show here:

I have been looking at different ways to get transcripts but I haven’t found a good solution for me yet. So in lieu of a full transcript here are some notes and the images promised.

The Ocean
The ocean covers 70% of the surface area of the earth and is 96.5% water, 2.5% salts, and the rest is dissolved inorganic and organic materials and particulates. Sea level at any location is a dance between the volume of water in the ocean and tectonic uplift and down-dropping of the coast.

Evaporation
This is one of the major ways that the ocean makes rocks. Compounds like salts concentrate in areas where a body of ocean water gets cut off. This can be through sea level change, tectonic changes, or man made intervention. As the water evaporates the concentration of salts and compounds increases until they start to crystalize out and form large deposits. The two maid evaporate minerals are Halite (Salt) and Gypsum. Table salt is mined from these deposits and sea salt is salt that was formed by modern evaporation methods.

Modern salt mining in Huron County Ontario Canada source: https://www.huroncountymuseum.ca/museum-week-may-17-21/

Spontaneous Precipitation
This is my favorite way the ocean makes rocks. Like the compounds that generate the minerals halite and gypsum, the compounds that form the calcium carbonate that make up Limestone come from dissolved compounds. In this case something will trigger a spontaneous crystallization of calcite or aragonite which will rain down to the sea floor. Over time this calcareous mud becomes limestone.

Satellite imagery from 2015 off the coast of the Bahamas (NASA Earth Observatory) of a suspected spontaneous precipitation event

Biogenic
Much like limestone, Chert is formed by things slowly dropping out of the water column. In this case chert is a siliceous material meaning it is made with silica. Chert is made from the hard parts of diatoms, silicoflagellates, and radiolarians which are algae and protozoa. As they die their skeletons build up in the deep ocean over time and form chert in large areas or small patches within other deposits. Another rock that forms this way is Chalk but this forms from plankton with calcite shells and skeletons.

Photomicrograph of radiolarian skeleton from USGS Library of Images From Life

Anthropogenic
In collaboration with the ocean, humans also make stones. The most obvious of this is Sea Glass which is the end product of human trash (glass from various sources) being introduced to the sea and worked in the shallow environment. Another anthropogenic material is the newly discovered Plastic rocks which are starting to form in beach environments. This is likely due to the increasing concentration of plastics and microplastics in the oceans.

Press image for a recent paper on plastic rocks found on a remote beach in Brazil you can read here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X22007135

If you have any questions or comments you can leave a comment here, on the social media posts or through email.

Borealis Meditation – S05E02 Rocks and Stones

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 2! In this episode we are talking about rocks, the types of rocks, stones, and humans history with stones.

You can listen to the show here:

As promised here is the famous tweet!

Borealis Meditation – S05E01 Hunga Volcano Tonga

Welcome back to Borealis Meditation and welcome to season 5! You can listen to the episode here:

Transcript Available here: (work in progress check back soon)

In this episode we talk about the eruption in Tonga on Jan. 15th of Hunga volcano. This eruption was spectacular and in this episode I go over the eruption but also some context in terms of how we monitor volcanoes and tsunami early warning systems.

I have some extra reading for this episode I will put at the end of this post. Also I am working on having transcripts for all my episodes this season. They may take a little time to come out and will definitely be a learning curve but I am working on making my content more accessible.

Please remember to like and share episodes so others can find them.
If you want to support my work I have a Patreon and Ko-fi (current goal is for a fancy paid service to help with the transcripts because you all covered my hosting costs already!)

Links:
Follow me on twitter and instagram
Support me on Patreon and ko-fi
NEW: Follow the show on youtube for an alternative way to listen

Further reading:
NASA post on the eruption: HERE
Global Volcanism Program page for the volcano: HERE (You can read weekly updates on each volcano that has activity)
NOAA Post on this eruption and the future of tsunami research: HERE
An update on the undersea cable situation: HERE

Borealis Meditation S04E18 – The End of Season 4

Sorry to say it but I really need a break. This is the end of season 4. I will be back with another season when I can but right now I just need to step back and take some time for myself.

I will still be around on socials so make sure to follow me on
Instagram: Katborealis
Twitter: Katborealis

And send me an email or a DM anywhere for access to the Discord server

If you would like to help cover the hosting costs for the podcast and website I also have a Ko-fi set up!

Be safe and I’ll talk to you soon!

Borealis Meditation – S04E17 Working with Crystals with Nicholas Pearson

Listen to the podcast here:

Join me as I chat with Nicholas Pearson about working with crystals, trends in the crystal industry, why quartz pebbles are the best, and talking about licking rocks. We get into if you need to cleanse and charge your crystals and a whole bunch more! Curious enough yet? Good. This was a lot of fun!

Catch up with Nicholas Pearson all over the web!
Instagram HERE
Twitter HERE
facebook HERE
Tiktok HERE
Website HERE

Books! Author Page
Crystal Basics (from the publisher)

Follow me on the web
Instagram HERE
Twitter HERE
Ko-fi HERE

Borealis Meditation – S04E16 – Being an Ethical Crystal Consumer

Listen to the Episode here: 


This is part 2 of a two part episode on being a responsible crystal consumer. See part 1 here: Crystal Ethics – Extraction In this episode we talk about the supply chain post extraction.
To review these are my crystals series episodes: 

Two articles Mentioned:

Guests appearing in this episode
Yinan Wang, mineral seller
Find him on Twitter (where you can contact him for mineral requests) 
Patreon – Where he has a mineral of the month club (US only)
He has two Books: 50 State Gems and minerals and 50 state fossils
Shop his Etsy and Ebay

Nicholas Pearson is an author and teaches workshops on crystal healing. 
Find him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram
Make sure to check out his Website where you can find all of his books

Fire Lyte is a fellow pagan podcaster 
Show: Inciting a Riot 
Upcoming book “The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft: Seeking an Intentional Magical Path”  is available for preorder now 
You can also follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram
Also support his work on Patreon

Phoenix LeFae is the owner of Milk and Honey in Sebastopol CA 
Shop Website
Find her online on Twitter, and support on Patreon
New book with Gwion Raven Life Ritualized, a witches guide to honoring life’s important moments

Althaea Sebastiani is a witch, author, community leader, and independent prospector
Find out more information on her Website including her wonderful classes
Support her on Patreon
I highly recommend her books By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The theory and Practice of Effective Home Warding and Paganism for Beginners the complete guide to Nature Based spirituality for every new seeker
Follow online on Twitter and Instagram

Robyn Valentine is an author, online shop owner, and podcaster
Shop website
Per order her new Book: Magikal Tarot: spreads spellwork and rituals for creating your life
Listen to the Podcast
Follow on Twitter and Instagram

Devin Hunter is an author, podcaster, and works for the shop The Mystic Dream.
Shop website personal website shop
Personal Website
Books
Listen to his Podcast
Follow on Twitter and Instagram

Borealis Meditation – S04E15 Crystal Ethics – Extraction

Listen to the Episode here: 

This is part 1 of a two part series on being a responsible crystal consumer. In this episode we talk about the extraction side of the supply chain. 
To review these are my crystals series episodes: 

Music played with Permission:
S.J. Tucker – Wild Times can be purchased through Bandcamp
Keep up to date with S.J. Tucker’s online website & twitter
Next Online show March 19 Tickets available soon through “online concert thing

Guests appearing in this episode
Yinan Wang, mineral seller
Find him on Twitter (where you can contact him for mineral requests) 
Patreon – Where he has a mineral of the month club (US only)
He has two Books: 50 State Gems and minerals and 50 state fossils
Shop his Etsy and Ebay 

Nicholas Pearson is an author and teaches workshops on crystal healing. 
Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Make sure to check out his Website where you can find all of his books

Fire Lyte is a fellow pagan podcaster 
Show: Inciting a Riot 
Upcoming book “The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft: Seeking an Intentional Magical Path”  is available for preorder now 
You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Also support his work on Patreon 

Phoenix LeFae is the owner of Milk and Honey in Sebastopol CA 
Shop Website 
Find her online on Twitter, and support on Patreon 
New book with Gwion Raven Life Ritualized, a witches guide to honoring life’s important moments

Althaea Sebastiani is a witch, author, community leader, and independent prospector
Find out more information on her Website including her wonderful classes
Support her on Patreon
I highly recommend her books By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The theory and Practice of Effective Home Warding and Paganism for Beginners the complete guide to Nature Based spirituality for every new seeker 
Follow online on Twitter and Instagram

Robyn Valentine is an author, online shop owner, and podcaster
Shop website 
Per order her new Book: Magikal Tarot: spreads spellwork and rituals for creating your life
Listen to the Podcast 
Follow on Twitter and Instagram

Making a Your Own Wheel of the Year

Well, we did it. The clock has rolled over and it is now 2021. At least on a western calendar. The near year for the Chinese Lunar calendar isn’t until February 12th, in Nepal the New Year’s day for 2077 is 14th April. All of this is to say that time just… is! And calendars are human constructs. So, make your own! 

I thought this would be a good time to reshare an older episode on making your own calendar. 

I started a worksheet after I started working on my calendar this year. Hope it helps! 

P.S. If you are good at design and wanted to help with my handouts and worksheets I would love to hear from you!

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