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Geological gas reappraisal and connection of Delphic Oracle

Edwardo A. Gonzalez


1300 W. The Grove, Anaheim CA


The primary objectives of this project is to reappraise the study done by Piccardi and De
Boer which concluded that the reason why the Oracle of Delphi had her godly visions was
because of ethylene emissions coming from the chasm where she sat (Piccardi 2000; De Boer
2001). This would mean the project would take place at the temple of Apollo and the surrounds
faults and springs. The overall hypothesis is, that in fact, there might be other causes that could
have induced the oracle visions. There will be surveys and sampling of air, water, and
sediments with in the temple, faults, and springs. This could lead us to find a new reason why
the oracle had her extensive visions.
Project Description
The objective of this investigation is to reappraise the original theory that ethylene was
the neurotoxic gas that induced the Greek oracles visions. Piccardis theory states that the
Apollo Temple is located directly over the Kerna fault and, when analyzing the spring water
from the faults, small amounts of ethylene were present (Piccardi, 2000; De Boer 2001). Piccardi
concluded that ethylene gas must have sprang up from the chasm where the oracle was placed,
inducing the oracles godly powers. A more complete study is needed in order to make claims
that a certain gas was the cause of the oracles visions. First we must conclude whether the
temple is located over any fault. There needs to be a complete gas-geochemical study in order to
find where gas seeped from the ground, including analyzing local water springs and scales.
Both gas surveys and thermal activity would be recorded.
Fault line Determination
In order to examine whether the faults lies within the temple of Apollo, a team of
geologist must conduct land surveys. New ground analysis of the faults would be taken by re-
examining the locations of the five springs. These locations would be hiked to and GPS
analyzed to determine their exact locations and then compared to the arial survey to determine
a match.
Gas Detection Methods
To detect any sort of gas that could have had any effect on the oracle, a Lasermethan TM
will be used. This machine would be placed around the faults lines in the temple of Apollo, both
inside and outside structures, as well as the springs that correspond to the faults. This would
analyze if any trace of methane anomalies are in the air within a few centimeters from the
ground (Etiope, 2006). The laser would detect any methane concentrations in the air that are
<2ppmv, having a detection limit of 1,3 ppm x m.
A closed-chamber method will be used to determine the existence of weak methane gas
exhalations form the soil to the air (Etiope, 2006). This is a technique used in micro seepage
studies of biological changes in methane in both wetland and drylands (Etiope, 2006). These
chambers would be placed in areas in the temple of Apollo, around the Kerna and Kastalia
faults, and their corresponding springs. The air from the chambers would then be extracted and
analyzed using gas chromatography (GC) with a Flame Ionization Detector (FID) (Etiope 2006).
The Autofim II Telegan machine would be used, analyzing with a detection limit of .1 ppmv
and an accuracy of 4% to 5% (Etiope, 2006).
A wide screening of gas in water samples would have to be taken as well form the Kerna
and Kastalia springs. Samples from the springs would be analyzed for C1, C2, C2H4, C3, iC4,
nC4, iC5, nC5, C6,+, He, H2, Ar, O2, CO2, CO, and H2S (Etiope, 2006). To analyze these
samples a Carle AGC 100-400 GC would be used (Etiope, 2006). This machine would be
equipped with a FID as well as a Thermal Conductivity Detector (TCD) with a detection limit
for CO2, N2, Ar, and O 2of 40 ppmv, a detection limit for H2S of 150 ppmv and for He and HC
of 10 ppmv (Etiope 2006). The machine has an overall accuracy of 2% (Etiope 2006). A mass
spectrometry machine, Finnigan Delta Plus XL will also be used, both located in Illinoise, USA
at Isotech Labs (Etiope, 2006). An on-site analysis will also be used to detect methane and C2H6
using the same portable GC-FID used in for the micro seepage (Etiope, 2006). To detect H2S a
REA colormetric tube and sampling pump will be used on site with a detection limit of .2 ppmv
and accuracy < 10% (Etiope, 2006).
Broader Impacts
Connecting all this data and piecing the parts together will insure a more complete
analysis of gas exhalations in the area. The equipment needed is commonly used and widely
available. There cannot be only one method in analysis of the temple but multiple analysis so
that all possible explanations have been explored. The equipment helps facilitate the collecting
and analyzing data from hard to reach places or places where a lab environment is not possible.
Completing this study will not only reappraise the hypothesis that ethanol gave the
oracle her godly visions but also help advance the geological knowledge of the current
surrounding area. This information can then be taken and used to track natural occurrences as
well as detect natural resources that could be taped into. It can also give clues to other known
historical event that could possibly have been a natural phenomenon. Revisiting and searching
new fault line will also help other scientists conduct further investigation on faults that may not
pertain to just this study but to other geological question that might be raised.


De Boer, J. Z., Hale J.R., Chanton J. 2001. New evidence for the geological origins of the
ancient Delphic oracle (Greece). Geology 29: 707-10.
Etiope G, Papatheodorus G, Chrisodoulus D, Geraga M, Favali P. 2006. The geological
links of the ancient Delphic Oracle (Greece): a reappraisal of natural gas
occurrences and origin. Geology 34 (10): 821-24.
Piccardi L. 2000. Active Faulting at Delphic, Greece Sesmotectonic remarks and a
hypothesis for the geological environment of a myth. Geology 28: 651-654.

Biographical Sketch
I transferred to Cal State Fullerton in 2012 where I am current still working towards my
undergraduate in biochemistry. At Fullerton, I am taking many chemistry courses such as analytical
chemistry. In this lab, many different samples are tested for concentration and purity using instruments
such as Gas Chromatography and Infrared Spectroscopy. In my English class, we emphasize in writing
research reports that are complete and concise. Beside my regular classes, I am also involved in a
biochemistry research lab conducting studies in mRNA alternative splicing. I am a junior at Fullerton and
am expected to graduate in the spring of 2016.