Metal plated oil and gas wells were found to contain an estimated 1.4 billion tons of silicate rock, which is highly corrosive to copper and aluminum, according to a study by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin.
The study was published in the journal Science.
The report said the silicate rocks were found at the bottom of an oil spill in South Texas in May 2016, when an oil rig was operating near the town of Waco.
The researchers said the oil was shipped from the state of Texas to refineries in Oklahoma and Canada, and then to a shipping company in the U.S. for processing.
The scientists found silicate-rich rock at depths of more than 500 metres at the surface and more than 1,000 metres at depth.
They found the rock was made up of small grains of aluminum, copper, zinc, and other metals.
They also found silicates of other elements in the rocks.
They said the rocks likely formed in the oil spill’s aftermath, with silicates from the oil itself being deposited to the bottom.
“We believe the rocks were probably transported via the oil well itself, but we don’t know what happened to the oil after the spill,” said lead author Andrew Littman, an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Geological Sciences.
Litt, along with co-author Michael E. Johnson, a professor of earth and planetary sciences, said they did not have access to the drilling site in the Waco oil spill, but they said they believed the rock likely came from a drilling rig.
The oil was transported from a well pad near Waco, where the company is headquartered.
Lott and Johnson are co-authors of the study.
The University of Houston School of Engineering, the University at Buffalo, the Texas Tech University School of Law, the U of T Scarborough School of the Arts, the James Bay Community College, the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, the College of Environmental and Resource Management and the University’s School of Social and Political Science are also involved in the research.