Wednesday, June 06, 2007

hydrocarbon atlantis

[Chris Jordan makes fantastic images of sifted waste. I can't help but imagine Scrooge McDuck swimming in this pile of cellphones.]

Yesterday, I found out (thanks to BLDGBLOG) that Shell Oil Plans to create 1,700 ft high walls of ice in shale under the Rocky Mountains. This is to prevent groundwater contamination when they pump 800 billion gallons of crude sequestered in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

Today, NY Magazine told me about a much smaller oil deposit -- only in the range of 30 million gallons -- that is notable because a) it sits in the middle of Brooklyn, and b) it is manmade (thanks, Mobil!). BLDGBLOG made a quick notice of this one as well.

This oil is going to be massively expensive to recover, and it's not crude but an amalgam of decayed motor oil, benzene and other lovely poisons, but all the same, how long is it going to be before we start mining our own waste? Thanks to microelectronics, there is a higher concentration of gold in some landfills than in many mines. The only problem is that current recovery methods would be as destructive and messing as strip-and-leach mining already is; in other words, we'd just be making a lovely soup out of our trash and sucking up what we like. Kind of makes me think that the real action of much of industry is to select and purify specific, rare materials, make intricate weavings of these threads of pure stuff, and then pulverize these assemblies and scatter them into a giant pit.

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