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Gulf spill: is the methane a bigger problem than the oil?

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posted on May, 16 2010 @ 01:50 PM
reply to post by apacheman

A leak like this has happened before, in the Gulf of Mexico, and went on for NINE MONTHS. Yet Godzilla didn't appear. Thank god. Japan knows all too well dont mess with Godzilla.

[edit on 16-5-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 04:40 PM
reply to post by IgnoranceIsntBlisss

This leak is not like the Ixtoc leak...that one was in much shallower water and wasn't over a large deposit of methane hydrates, if I remember correctly. I'll research it later and find out for sure.

You continually seem to miss my point, which leads me to suspect that you've not read much of the material I've posted. This isn't merely about the oil, but rather the methane hydrates that they were actually going after.

Perhaps I've assumed too much in assuming folks can put the data together and draw a conclusion from them. Methane hydrates are solids only under specific temperatures and pressures. If they are already dissolving in the waters around the leak, that would reduce the hydrostatic pressure, pushing it closer to sublimation points. A hurricane passing over the zone would reduce it further. Would it reduce it enough to cause a massive sublimation event?

I don't know.

I do know that there's a lot of the stuff right there (it's what they were after more than the oil, I think).

I do know that there have been significant subsea quakes in the area recently.

I do know that if a significant amount of hydrates suddenly dissolve into the water, it has a good chance of creating a subsidence event that could create a tsunami.

I'm not saying that these things will happen...I'm saying that rational people should be examining the possibility, which doesn't seem to be happening anywhere.

If it were to occur I wouldn't expect a huge tsunami, but even a small one sloshing oil and methane laden water around the gulf would be a very erious problem, much worse than it is right now.

Like I said before, study the data and show me the physics or chemistry or whatever that eliminates this scenario as a possibility, and I'll be grateful for the news.

But to say it won't happen or can''t happen because it hasn't before is not science, it's an opinion. While I respect your right to have one, I'd feel lots better if soemone could actually show me exactly how and why it can't occur as I've outlined with facts and supporting data.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 04:55 PM
reply to post by apacheman

Well you opening up your citations with the biggest doomongering prediction ever, something about massive methane clouds devouring the entire atmosphere and igniting, and then you appear to have cited every article ever written on methane hydrates. From there you're going into other threads and linking back to this one saying that a hurricane could hit causing a total seafloor collapse and a oily fireball tsunami will wipe us out. Or something along those lines.

I'm really not even sure what your point is other than just debating for the fun of it at this point. Also, I dont see where BP's target was the hydrates themselves.

I will say some of the data is useful, and BP was stupid drilling there considering all of the other possible and existing sites. Hopefully we can ensure they don't get to take the same risks...

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 05:14 PM
reply to post by IgnoranceIsntBlisss


I merely asked whether the methane is more dangerous than the oil.

I've said nothing about fireballs or all-enveloping clouds of death or anything remotely similar.

All that is your invention.

What I'm trying to do is to rationally evaluate events and consequences. So far as I can tell, nothing I've mentioned as a possibility is beyond the bounds of reason or science, so again:

READ the stuff and think it through first, then find citations to back up your opinion.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 05:17 PM
reply to post by apacheman

Correction, citation #2:

Enough methane dissolves in deep, cold water (about 0.4 percent by molar volume) if that water were to rise, the gas would come out of solution and create a mist whose volume is seven times greater than pure water. The resulting eruption would quickly spread and release the whole ocean basin's worth of natural gas in great clouds. These would inevitably ignite. The amounts of gas would be enormous, and the worldwide fires and explosions would be catastrophic. Even the formation of fullerene compounds, now considered a sure sign of asteroid impacts, is plausible. Land organisms would suffer mass extinction.

Nice try. Especially when you move on to other doomongering threads, citing this one, talking about hurricanes and oil slick tsunamis.

[edit on 16-5-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 05:34 PM
reply to post by IgnoranceIsntBlisss

Ummm....I didn't say that.

I provided that as background info, something to be aware of as an extreme possibility, kind of a boundary marker, if you will.

I personally don't think that it would ever get that bad, but that doesn't mean that a much smaller event of that sort wouldn't be locally catastrophic. Rather than saying it can't or won't happen, wouldn't it be far more constructive to recognize that it does happen all the time on a tiny scale, and if the scale increases, look at what point it becomes dangerous? And dangerous in what ways?

Keeping track of how much methane is dissolving into the water strikes me as completely prudent and worth doing; just as important as keeping track of the oil, if not mpore so.

[edit on 16-5-2010 by apacheman]

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 05:47 PM
You've brought in some very compelling scientific information and sound concerns about the methane gas, Apacheman. You are not the only one thinking in this direction (I just came from another site where it is being discussed extensively) and I hope you don't let the detractors and paid shills on ATS divert your attention too much.

Sadly, I think today is a very, very important day as far as information/disinformation and propaganda goes and you're going to get slammed by tag teams all day - tomorrow is going to be insane as far as the stock market goes. This is not a very happy Sunday at all.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 07:28 PM
Well, it looks like pretty much all of this oil related doomongering has been debunked:

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 11:00 PM

Researchers, meanwhile, warned Sunday that miles-long underwater plumes of oil from the spill could poison and suffocate sea life across the food chain, with damage that could endure for a decade or more. Researchers have found more underwater plumes of oil than they can count from the blown-out well, said Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia. She said careful measurements taken of one plume showed it stretching for 10 miles, with a 3-mile width.

The hazardous effects of the plume are twofold. Joye said the oil itself can prove toxic to fish swimming in the sea, while vast amount of oxygen are also being sucked from the water by microbes that eat oil. Dispersants used to fight the oil are also food for the microbes, speeding up the oxygen depletion.

"So, first you have oily water that may be toxic to certain organisms and also the oxygen issue, so there are two problems here," said Joye, who's working with a group of scientists who discovered the underwater plumes in a recent boat expedition to the Gulf. "This can interrupt the food chain at the lowest level, and will trickle up and certainly impact organisms higher. Whales, dolphins and tuna all depend on lower depths to survive."

She said it could take years or even decades for the ecosystem to recover.

And still no mention of the amount of dissolved methane in the water. Surely that will worsen the oxygen depletion problem?

Ignorance, nothing has been debunked, since this is a long way from playing out. This is a slow-moving disaster and will take a long time unfolding.

posted on May, 16 2010 @ 11:15 PM
reply to post by apacheman

Too chez. I dealt with your worst case scenario in that new thread without any response....

[edit on 16-5-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 10:21 AM
I have said this all along

the rig blew up (IMHO) because the drilling operation "crunched up crystals" in the mud, and when the mud came up the riser it "burped" on a scale that had never been seen before.

I am "suspect" that the rig blew up during the cementing process. If they punched the hole and found that they had grabbed a tiger by the tail, and were uver their heads, that would be the obvious direction next. now couple that with the fact they were (supposedly, but yet unconfirmed) using a new fast cure concrete that had never been used at that depth....why the need for fast cure?

BP execs and "inspectors from materials management" on board. the "supposed" (can't find the doc) press release dated for 2 days after the "event"
leads me to believe that the pressure was on (pun) to deliver the hole, so a favorable light and posture could take place at a specific timeline. probably related to stock prices, oil futures, etc.

something like this:
drill, drill, drill, we got a deadline, OPPS!!, crap!!!, leak-what leak, do we have to tell anybody, leak what leak, oh that leak, oh well, just don't touch it and we can't make it worse.......


posted on May, 17 2010 @ 12:01 PM

Another way to get oil off the surface is to use a chemical dispersing agent. These detergent-based substances cause oil to bead up into tiny droplets that can mix into the water and disperse into deeper layers. Underwater currents can then theoretically dilute the oil and its risk to the environment.

Dispersion spares surface-dwelling animals, such as birds and otters. But as oil drifts downward, it falls on fish and on the eggs that are stuck to surfaces or buried in the sediment.

To find out just how dangerous dispersed oil might be to fish, Hodson and colleagues performed a series of laboratory experiments with beakers that were meant to simulate contaminated lakes. In all of the beakers, the scientists mixed water with diesel oil, then added newly hatched trout embryos. In some beakers, the scientists added a dispersing agent. Their analyses, published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, showed that dispersants greatly increased the amount of hydrocarbons that could affect fish. In turn, that extra dose of exposure made the oil 100 times more toxic to the animals. Toxicity was measured as an elevated enzyme response in the livers of the fish.

Exposure to dispersed oil doesn't kill a lot of fish, Hodson added. Instead, it either kills eggs before they hatch or leads to damage or deformities in juvenile fish. Compared to the horrifying appearance of oil-drenched birds on beaches, it can be hard to catch the attention of the public -- or even of cleanup managers -- with such subtle and hidden health effects.

"What he's saying, and he's correct, is that it could be way more fish fingerlings or eggs that are impacted than you'd ever impact birds," Kinner said. "It kind of adds fuel to the discussion."

Oil + dispersant + methane = bigger mess than they can handle or own up to. Next year's gonna suck.

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 12:22 PM

A BP statement said the four-inch (10-centimeter) diameter tube inserted into the 21-inch leaking pipe using undersea robots had captured "some amounts of oil and gas."

BP PLC chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Monday on NBC's "Today" that a mile-long tube was funneling a little more than 42,000 gallons of crude a day from a blown-out well into a tanker ship.

That would be about a fifth of the 210,000 gallons the company and the U.S. Coast Guard have estimated are gushing out each day, though scientists who have studied video of the leak say it could be much bigger and even BP acknowledges there's no way to know for sure how much oil there is.

Area of a circle = pi X r squared

Pipe = 21", area = 1385.44

Siphon = 4", area = 50.27

ratio = 27.56

BP says they are recovering 1,000 barrels a day through the siphon, so at a minimum it is leaking over 27,000 barrels a day, not 5,000.

27,000 X 27 days = 729,000 barrels = 30,618,000 gallons minimum

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 12:25 PM

From the first moments that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sank last month, it has been apparent that the blooming Gulf oil spill has been an oil disaster unlike any other. But the full truth of that statement is perhaps only now beginning to become apparent.

The oil that can be seen from the surface is apparently just a fraction of the oil that has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20, according to an assessment the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology. Significant amounts of oil are spreading at various levels throughout the water column, says the report, which was posted online a week ago but first published by The New York Times Saturday.

The research, combined with other emerging data, could fundamentally alter researchers’ understanding of the oil spill. It suggests that vastly more oil than previously reported could be spilling from the wellhead and the attached riser pipe that now lies crumpled on the seafloor like a kinked and leaking garden hose.

Moreover, it suggests that serious environmental degradation could take place in the open ocean, creating massive “dead zones” where no creature can live because of the lack of oxygen in the water. The spread of oil at all levels of the Gulf also could become a concern for shore communities in hurricanes, which stir up the water column as they come ashore.

Scientists looking at video of the leak, suggest that as many as 3.4 million gallons of oil could be leaking into the Gulf every day – 16 times more than the current 210,000-gallon-a-day estimate, according to the Times.
The depth of the problem

The fact that the spill could possibly be so radically misunderstood nearly a month after it began speaks to the unique nature of this spill. In particular, its depth – 5,000 feet below the ocean surface – makes it both unprecedented and difficult to study.

For experts, “most of their experience is with shallow-water spills that quickly bleed black goo onto beaches that are cleaned up relatively quickly,” says the Los Angeles Times.

That is clearly not what has happened in the Gulf, where shorelines have, so far, emerged relatively unscathed.

The nature of the oil in the Gulf oil spill could be relevant – it is of a lighter grade than that in the Exxon Valdez spill, for example.

More relevant could be the dispersant that BP is applying to the oil at the source. BP officials have hailed the process as a success, noting diminishing oil at the surface. But the dispersant breaks the oil into smaller drops, which might instead be spreading throughout the water column, instead of rising to the surface.

It is not clear what this would mean environmentally, though past research indicates that oil can be trapped in the seabed for decades after oil on the surface is cleaned away.

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 12:28 PM
reply to post by apacheman

21" is the OD.
The ID is 20".

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 12:45 PM
reply to post by IgnoranceIsntBlisss

Fair enough.

What's the ID of the siphon, then?

My guess is that the ratio won't change much.

It still makes it a significantly larger amount spilled and spilling.

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 01:01 PM
Using 20" ID:

Area = 1256.64

Using 3.5" ID for siphon (guesstimate, 1/4" thick pipe walls, could be underestimating)

Area = 38.48

Ratio = 32.66 : 1

Siphon is taking 1,000 barrels/day, so now the flow rate is 32660 barrels a day leaking

So 32660 X 27 = 881,820 barrels = 37,036,440 gallons so far

Happier now?

posted on May, 17 2010 @ 01:07 PM
This is all frightening stuff. Most read the oil threads, others the methane threads, when really the two go together. And the brown dwarf, if and when it comes, brings methane.
Methinks methane is going to say its piece, at our expense.


posted on May, 17 2010 @ 07:26 PM

Originally posted by apacheman
A 2001 (My emphasis) The Geological Society of London (World’s oldest association of earth scientists) short summary discussing tsunamis caused by underwater landslides (and other causes) “A major submarine (landslide) slope failure in the N. Atlantic could give rise to a tsunami large enough to flood major cities on the coast of America or Europe.”

For comparison of the tsunami’s wave height described in the Summary, imagine an 11 or 12 story high building racing toward you.

I get a "page not found" at the link you provided. Is there a way to embed the link or has it been permanently removed from your website referrence?

So, if the gas displacement were to cause an underwater landslide, how likely would it be that the karst shelf of gulf coast cities would slide right on down into the ocean?

[edit on 17-5-2010 by Alethea]

[edit on 17-5-2010 by Alethea]

posted on May, 18 2010 @ 06:26 AM
Thought ya'll might be interested in this, I just heard about it on our local news. The University of Texas Energy Institute is hosting a webcast for the public going over all the aspects of the oil spill. It starts at 10:00 AM CST til 12:00 CST.

“Oil in Troubled Waters” Public Forum to Examine the Cause, Consequences and Cost of Spill in the Gulf

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