Science: Fossils to Gasoline

Psephomancy, the antique Greek art of divination by plucking pebbles from a heap, is today a $2,500,000-a-year study of the U.S. oil industry. Its present name is micropaleontology, and its new methods were explained last week at the University of Chicago conference (see p. 63) by Geologist Carey Gardiner Croneis.

Geologists use the microscopic fossils brought up in the borings when wells are drilled to identify and correlate oil-bearing rock formations. The rock that overlies oil deposits consists of petrified muck of swamps where dinosaurs sloshed, and of seas where ichthyosaurs swam. In the pertrified muck geologists find the dinosaurs' infinitesimal contemporaries...

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