A model chemical system illustrates that acid-catalyzed reactions can explain several key transformations in the generation and maturation of oil. Reactions should occur under geologically reasonable conditions, and naturally occurring active catalysts exist in many sediments. Catalytic principles indicate that the nature and amount of these catalysts in sediments can importantly control the fate of organic substances therein. Under a given time-temperature history, organic matter in a sediment may or may not generate petroleum depending on the concentration and activity of the geocatalysts.--Modified journal abstract.

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