24 Apr 2015

Circular holes in Runswick Bay beach.

Back in the 80s there was some drilling here and in Rosedale to see if there was any oil to be had. I'm told by one who around at the time that these are capped boreholes:
Oil was discovered (it occasionally seeps out of the cliffs and rocks) but not enough to make commercial extraction feasible. The capped boreholes have become these perfectly round rockpools.

Something geologically interesting did happen hereabouts in the early Jurassic; petrochemical giants don't run geological field trips to places like this for nothing. Speaking to geologists who are familiar with the shales hereabouts, it turns out that during their formation 190 million years ago the rocks between Runswick and Staithes sequestered much more carbon than expected in comparable rocks elsewhere.

Why, I asked, are geologists interested? The world population is heading towards 9 billion and the energy companies can't see a way to keeping the lights on or feeding the population without fracking shales with a high hydrocarbon (oil and gas) content. And they want to know how the seabed could be encouraged, like Runswick's jurassic seabed, to absorb more atmospheric carbon to offset the effects of global warming.

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