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Albertite is a type of asphalt found in Albert County, New Brunswick. It is a type of solid hydrocarbon.

It is a deep black and lustrous variety, and is less soluble in turpentine than the usual type of asphalt. It is the only solid petroleum source known. It was from Albertite that Kerosene was first created. It was first truly studied by New Brunswick geologist Abraham Gesner, who had heard stories of rocks that burned in the area.


Albertite is formed from oil shale which has become remobilised into liquid asphalt. The process of formation is as follows;

  • Production of crude oil (petroleum) from source rocks (in the case of Albert Mines, oil shale)
  • Petroleum becomes trapped in an anticlinal culmination
  • The petroleum gradually leaks out through the weakly permeable cap rock, the lighter oils are released most easily, leaving the bituminous residues of tars, asphaltanes and so forth behind
  • Eventually, the lighter hydrocarbons are totally removed, leaving the solid residue behind as albertite


Albertite is named after the Albert County Mines in New Brunswick, Canada, from whence it was first found. The occurrence at Albert Mines existed as a series of discordant veins which were hosted in the core of an anticlinal closure of a fold. It was initially mistaken for coal. The geologists of the 1800s were at a loss as to describe how this coal apparently came to lie discordant to the strata of the area, as they did not yet understand the nature of the oil shale source rock, nor the fact that the albertite was essentially solidified asphaltum.

Albertite and controvesial theories

Albertite is often used to argue the abiogenic origin of coal because it was originally reported as a "liquid coal" and this is a basis for arguments under the current theories of the abiogenic origin of petroleum and coal. The work of various Russian scientists and Thomas Gold are based on this early misconception.

These arguments are based on an archaic interpretation by the geologists of the day, who described it as coal, and presupposed (correctly) that it had once been liquid, though wrongly as about it being a liquid form of coal. The abiogenic theorists particularly favor the sentence:

If this Albertite is to be called coal, then we must admit that coal is not continued to beds subordinate to the stratification, but occurs also in lodes, like metallic ores.

However, proper reading of the 1865 source states:

This coal must have been injected into the crevices in a pasty or fluid state, since all the little apertures streaming off from the main vault, and even large cavities of many cubic yards extent have been filled in with it. It appears to me that these veins are analogous to veins of Petroleum. The latter are often found to occupy anticlinal vaults. If we should conceive a Petroleum vein to solidify, the solid mass resulting would present all the phenomena of the Albert vein. And on the other hand, the study of the irregularities of the Albert vein, if it be like Petroleum, would elucidate the sinking of oil wells.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Albertite". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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