What is the name of the process when plants and animals turn into petroleum?

One Response to “What is the name of the process when plants and animals turn into petroleum?”

  1. Jyoti M Says:

    catagenesis
    The word is used in a different context in geology:
    Catagenesis is a term used in petroleum geology to describe the cracking process which results in the conversion of organic kerogens into hydrocarbons.

    When animal or plant matter is buried during sedimentation, the constituent organic molecules (lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and lignin-humic compounds) break down due to the increase in temperature and pressure. This transformation occurs in the first few hundred meters of burial and results in the creation of two primary products: kerogens and bitumens.

    It is generally accepted that hydrocarbons are formed by the thermal alteration of these kerogens (the biogenic theory). In this way, given certain conditions (which are largely temperature-dependent) kerogens will break down to form hydrocarbons through a chemical process known as cracking, or catagenesis.