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Methane found leaking from sea floor vents

Posted on Monday, 25 August, 2014 | Comment icon 25 comments

Methane bubbles rising from holes in the sea floor. Image Credit: NOAA

Scientists have discovered several hundred vents pumping methane out from the bottom of the Atlantic.

In a discovery that certainly doesn't bode well for global warming, hundreds of undersea vents have been found along America's East Coast that are leaking significant amounts of potent greenhouse gases in to the atmosphere.

A total of 570 vents ( or "seeps" ) have been found so far and together these are thought to be leaking 90 tons of methane on an annual basis. The find completely debunks previous claims that there are only three vents present in the region.

"The discovery of widespread methane seepage on the northern U.S. Atlantic margin was indeed surprising," said study lead author Adam Skarke. "This is because [it] lacks the geological properties commonly known to be associated with widespread seafloor methane emissions."

The good news is that the vents are so deep down that the methane is unlikely to be reaching the atmosphere, however it isn't clear what effect these gases might be having on the the local ocean environment. There is also speculation that there could be tens of thousands more vents like these dotted all across the world's oceans.

"The methane is dissolving into the ocean at depths of hundreds of meters and being oxidized," said Skarke. "But it is important to say we simply donít have any evidence in this paper to suggest that any carbon coming from these seeps is entering the atmosphere."

Source: Fox News | Comments (25)

Tags: Methane, Vents, Atlantic

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by Doug1o29 on 25 August, 2014, 21:24
Doesn't sound like an alarm to me. Somebody just had to get a paper published - publish or perish, you know. He'll do a follow-up and get two papers out of one discovery. Then the real work will begin - figuring out how long this has been going on and if it poses a threat. That nobody found these before is not real worrisome. Those surveys have been anything but complete in the past. We really don't have a baseline survey yet. BTW: farther south there are some gigantic blow-out holes on the ocean floor. Nobody knows how old they are, either. Doug
Comment icon #17 Posted by Hobbit Feet on 25 August, 2014, 21:59
Can you imagine what Arizona would be like!
Comment icon #18 Posted by spud the mackem on 25 August, 2014, 22:04
So the vents have been found....come on people they didn't just start last whats the alarm and worry all about, they've probably been doing this for millennia...All I can say is that there must be a vast herd of cows under the Atlantic in a huge cave.
Comment icon #19 Posted by StRoostifer on 25 August, 2014, 22:05
Im no marine biologist but I could see this being a contributor. If the methane is in fact rising into our atmosphere does this mean governments will be taxing the planet for money as well. I mean come on, if humans are to be taxed for their farts then its only fair to tax earth and mother nature for their farts as well. Just trying to keep it fair across the board.
Comment icon #20 Posted by qxcontinuum on 25 August, 2014, 22:58
How about exploiting them until exhaustion? That can certainly be turned on into a gold mine!
Comment icon #21 Posted by coolguy on 26 August, 2014, 4:05
I wonder if this can cause the oceans to stay warmer and help make gobal warming
Comment icon #22 Posted by keithisco on 26 August, 2014, 7:59
I don't see any fear and panic on this forum, nor in the OP, just a desire to understand the phenomenon a little better, and whether the scale of the release is normal or being exacerbated in some way by general global warming. It is all about planning and strategy - not fear and panic (which appears to be Deniers planning and strategy).
Comment icon #23 Posted by spartan max2 on 26 August, 2014, 13:50
true, I wonder how long these vents have been going on
Comment icon #24 Posted by Doug1o29 on 26 August, 2014, 14:44
And that is the $64 million question. Doug
Comment icon #25 Posted by Doug1o29 on 28 August, 2014, 18:38
We can't burn all the fossil fuels we already know of without rendering ourselves extinct. And we have lots of cheaper (easier to get to) gas supplies on land. I don't think there's going to be a whole lot of development of these in the foreseeable future. Doug

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