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First active sea-bed methane leak discovered

By T.K. Randall
July 23, 2020 · Comment icon 10 comments

Antarctica is home to a quarter of the world's marine methane. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Jason Auch
Scientists have identified what is believed to be the first example of methane leaking from the sea floor.
Discovered by a team of researchers at Oregon State University, the leak is situated near the Cinder Cones at McMurdo Sound in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.

Global warming is typically blamed on greenhouse gases produced by human activity such as industrial pollution and car exhaust fumes, however there are also believed to be large quantities of methane locked away beneath the sea floor - the result of algae decaying beneath the sediment.

The fear is that if the oceans warm up enough, this trapped methane could be released, producing a runaway warming effect that would be impossible to stop or reverse.
In this particular case however, the methane leak is not situated in a region of the ocean that has experienced this warming effect, leaving the reason for the phenomenon something of a mystery.

One of the more unsettling things about the find is that, under normal circumstances, when methane begins to seep through from the sea floor, microbes move in and consume it, which prevents it from ultimately reaching the surface and making its way into the atmosphere.

In this case however, for some unknown reason, there is no sign of these microbes.

"The methane cycle is absolutely something that we as a society need to be concerned about," study leader Andrew Thurber from Oregon State University told The Guardian.

"I find it incredibly concerning."

Source: Phys.org | Comments (10)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Essan 4 years ago
The methane is frozen on the seabed.   If the sea temperature rises it defrosts ....
Comment icon #2 Posted by Doug1029 4 years ago
Methane in the sea bed is frozen into a solid.  The solid melts as temps warm, releasing methane gas. Doug
Comment icon #3 Posted by Doug1029 4 years ago
Methane clathrate boiling point:  -162 C melting point:  -182.5 C Add enough pressure, as in the deep sea, and the melting and boiling points rise. Doug
Comment icon #4 Posted by Essan 4 years ago
Some more info on methane clathrate: https://worldoceanreview.com/en/wor-1/ocean-chemistry/climate-change-and-methane-hydrates/ https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/methane-hydrate
Comment icon #5 Posted by Doug1029 4 years ago
Now go 300 feet deeper, underneath tons of sea-floor mud. You might find this educational. https://geology.com/articles/methane-hydrates/ Doug
Comment icon #6 Posted by Doug1029 4 years ago
There's a phase chart in the article that explains that nicely.  Increasing temps melt the clathrate, producing methane gas which eventually bubbles to the surface. Methane blowouts are nothing new.  This one in Antarctica sounds like it has been around for a long time and that it was only recently discovered.  If that's the case, the ecosystem has already adapted to it so we don't need to worry.  The big question is how many more of these can the climate take? Doug
Comment icon #7 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Japanese are starting to excavate solid methane from the sea bed in the sea of Japan. They call it methane hydrate or methane clathrate : https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Methane_clathrate
Comment icon #8 Posted by TripGun 4 years ago
Long suspected in mysterious sinking of ships in certain triangles. Good to see it is a natural phenomenon but still not a welcome one.
Comment icon #9 Posted by qxcontinuum 4 years ago
Well then harvest the damn thing. We need methane gas. The co2 resulted can feed trees if all the nations like Ireland and Scotland would decide to replant trees rather than keeping vaste lands the quality of air will increase. 
Comment icon #10 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 4 years ago
more allarmist wooo woooo


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