The diatom has been variously regarded as the major source, as an accessory source, and as a doubtful source for California petroleum. The two main lines of evidence cited by upholders of the first view are: (1) the intimate association of diatomaceous deposits with the majority of oil producing areas in the state, and (2) the observed ability of living diatoms to manufacture oil, which under favorable conditions could be stored in contemporaneous sediments. Opposed to this view are the facts that (1) some petroliferous areas in the state produce from horizons high above the postulated diatomaceous source beds, (2) some diatomaceous formations have shown no indication of being oil producers, (3) diatomite generally contains little or no hydrocarbons or fixed carbon, and (4) certain organic, siliceous shales, generally ad mitted to be source beds, contain relatively small amounts of recognizable diatom remains. An intermediate viewpoint holds that California petroleum is polygenetic, asphaltic oils having been derived from vegetable remains, including diatoms, paraffin oils having been derived from marine animals, such as foraminifera.
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Phleger, Fred B. Jr. and Albritton, Claude C. Jr.
"Diatoms As A Source For California Petroleum: A Summary Review,"
Field and Laboratory: Vol. 6
Available at: https://scholar.smu.edu/fieldandlab/vol6/iss1/5