Category Oil

The Changing Earth

How do we know that the climate has changed?

In more recent times, geologists and paleontologists have been able to make more accurate measurements of the age of ancient rocks. Trees produce a new ‘ring’ every year, and these can be measured and counted. The width of the ring shows how well the tree grew in any year, reflecting climatic conditions at that time. The rings of even partly fossilized trees buried in bogs can be measured, and these measurements provide accurate records of climate changes over the past 750,000 years. By measuring the radioactivity of once living material, scientists can make accurate measurements up to 40,000 years ago. 

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How was oil formed?

Most scientists think that oil was formed from the remains of tiny plants and animals that inhabited the seas millions of years ago. When these creatures died, their remains were buried in layers of rock. Substances in their bodies gradually altered to form oil. Other scientists disagree, and believe that oil formed from carbon-containing materials that were trapped inside the rock when the Earth was formed. Oil is found in rocks buried beneath the continents, and beneath the shallow parts of the oceans. More than half of the world’s known oil resources are in the Middle East. 

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