In what scientists are considering a new source of methane for industrial use, a new source of likely methane has been found in ocean floor between North Carolina and Massachusetts. Deep-ocean researchers discovered these gases rising from the sea-floor and estimate it should be methane, a colorless and odorless gas that is usually used for fuel.
The scientists also believe these seeping gases could be responsible for much global-warming, and they are taking steps to learn more about harvesting this possible methane and understanding its ecological implications on the atmosphere and in overlying waters.
According to marine researchers, it is believed that almost all the methane plume emissions are generated from decomposed ocean floor sediments that contain ices that should produce methane over a period of time. Scientists speculate that microbes that got trapped under deep layers of ice under the sea may have produced this escaping methane, and with the gradual disintegration of underlying ice due to overhead global warming, the trapped methane are escaping to the surface and dissolving into seawater before ever reaching the atmosphere.
According to Ronald Cohen, a geologist from the Carnegie Institute for Science, Washington DC, “this is a very careful study that lays the groundwork for further research. Scientists would like to know what these sources are, how much methane they’re producing, and how those sources vary over time.” An oceanographer from Southampton University, UK, Tim Minshull, said “I’m not that surprised that people haven’t seen these things before. These features are quite narrow, sometimes just a few meters across, and the ocean’s a big place.”
Adam Skarke, a co-author of this research and a geologist from the Mississippi State University, Starkville, noted that his team had discovered about 570 bubble plumes of methane in an area that covered 950 kilometers. He further stated that with a collected sample of this rising methane, and an analysis of waters around the methane plume areas, scientists may discover how these emissions impact the environment, although he further submitted that this rising ocean floor gas appears to diminish oxygen in a way that could create more carbon dioxide which could acidify waters in areas surrounding the emanating methane.