Seafloor Methane’s Escape Route

Seafloor Methane’s Escape Route

What Goes On Inside The Ocean

On the floor of an ocean, many things happen. One of them is the presence of methane – the major element of natural gas. It is the cleanest of all burning fossil fuels and when released into the environment, it is much more potent as a greenhouse gas than the popularly used carbon dioxide.

Seafloor methane is contained in formations that are frozen along the marginal lines of the ocean. Sometimes, it equals the total available amount of oil, gas and coal in worldwide reservoirs. Sounds tight. Does it not? Nevertheless, the way this resource manages to escape is not at all understood.

Particularly, researchers are being faced with a puzzle in their quest to understand how this stealthy escape happens. In some observation sites, methane gas has been noticed to be bubbling up vigorously. Regardless, the low temperature and high pressure of these seafloor environments should normally create a frozen layer – one solid enough to act as a capstone keeping the gas in.

The frozen hydrates fail to keep methane gas from escaping straight into the columns of the ocean. But, it’s not that simple, in some situations, it makes the escape possible. So how does the gas emit?

To study how this emission happens, there is the need to combine laboratory experiments, computer modelling and observations in the deep-sea study by researchers. Scientists found a phenomenon that can predict and explain the way and how the methane gas mixed with frozen water still cannot keep the gas in despite its icy grip.

The process of the discovered bubble formulation begins right at the floor of the sea. The bubbles actually form more than in liquid, it often forms with a frozen crust by its side and it floats upward in this fashion. This exposed that the hydrates on the gas interfaces can as well be common occurrences.

But that is not all, the base of the matter would be finding out what exactly is triggering these bubbles from beneath the seafloor. It was discovered that, as a gas tries to escape it gets countered by a hydrate shell and then, it backs off. Though, this is never for long. This bubble returns large enough with its frozen crusts and this time it shatters the hydrated shell. This is just the shell hatching its way out of itself. This is because these bubbles form from the shells and destroy a part of it themselves – leading to a free gas flow.

When the crust of the hydrate forms, it slows down the formation of other hydrates because such would cause a barrier between the gas and seawater. When the crust then succeeds, the shell gets broken and methane gas begins to escape.

Anyway, it is not fully understood how the movement of gas through the zone of hydrate stability – this being where the gas is expected to be immobilised after it gets converted to hydrate – works to allow the gas escape rather than being dutiful enough to keep the gas in and away from leakage or any threat of it.

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