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The evolution of hydrocarbons through the increasing pressure and temperature associated with burial. In the immature stage the product is gas; as it matures the development of heavy oils is succeeded by medium, and finally light oils. If the temperature exceeds approximately 100 °C, however, dry gas is the sole product and the stage of incipient metamorphism is reached. See also natural gas; and petroleum.

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.

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