Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Formation of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels formed from ancient organisms that died and were buried under layers of accumulating sediment. As additional sediment layers built up over these organic deposits, the material was subjected to increasing temperatures and pressures. Over millions of years, these physical conditions chemically transformed the organic material into hydrocarbons.

Most organic debris is destroyed at the earth's surface by oxidation or by consumption by microorganisms. Organic material that survives to become buried under sediments or deposited in other oxygen-poor environments begins a series of chemical and biological transformations that may ultimately result in petroleum, natural gas, or coal. Many such deposits occur in sedimentary basins (depressed areas in the earth’s crust where sediments accumulate), and along continental shelves. Sediments may accumulate to depths of several thousand feet in a basin, exerting pressures up to one hundred million pascals (tens of thousands of pounds per square inch) and temperatures of several hundred degrees on the organic material. Over millions of years, these conditions can chemically transform the organic material into petroleum, natural gas, coal, or other types of fossil fuels.

A. Petroleum Formation
B. Coal Formation
C. Natural Gas Formation
D. Other Fossil Fuels