Tar sands are a mixture of sand, clay, water and an oil called bitumen. Bitumen is formed from the remains of organic living things that fell to the sea floor or lake. The heat and pressure of being deep in the earth alter the organic matter into a thick, crude oil. The difference from other oils like that of Saudi Arabia is the fact that bitumen is not formed under such stringent temperature and pressure conditions, and remains at shallower depths. This give bacteria a chance to thrive, tainting the oil. Extracting and refining oil from tar sands is an expensive and more time-consuming process than the ready-to-use oils buried deep in the earth.
Tar sands are rich with oil, however the problem with extracting the necessary elements to make the fuel has an enormous effect on both the economy and the environment. The drilling and extraction from tar sands causes vast and lethal land degradation, as well as runoff that can contaminate water that is above and below ground. As we get more and more desperate to maintain our current dependency on oil, the more our environment suffers.
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