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Associated Press Writers= NEW ORLEANS (AP) — It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem.
The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.
That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.
"This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said. source
Originally posted by IcarusDeepSea
Thank you for the info, I will now go and change my underpants.
Originally posted by Dynamitrios
Hm, could this set the atmosphere on fire, thus burning up all the oxygen?
Originally posted by cosmicpixie
According to oceanographer John Kessler the methane levels in the oil coming from the sea floor now are at 40 % compared to the normal 5% found in typical oil deposits.
Normally, the pressure of hundreds of meters of water above keeps the frozen methane stable. But heat flowing from oil drilling and pipelines has the potential to slowly destabilize it, with possibly disastrous results: Melting hydrate might trigger underwater landslides as it decomposes. Scientists hypothesize, in fact, that 8,000 years ago, decomposing hydrate helped to generate a gigantic landslide under the North Sea. The resulting tsunami scoured the Norwegian fjords and scattered seafloor sediment across Holland and Scotland. While no one is predicting that drilling could catalyze an event of such catastrophic proportions, an underwater slide in an oil field could cause enormous environmental damage from oil spills that couldn't be easily stopped.
Originally posted by getreadyalready
The Methane is the scariest part in my opinion. The largest extinction event in the history of the world was blamed on Methane.
Originally posted by awakentired
I can see the thread title in a few months.
Where were you when Earth lit her Fart?
Joking aside. Nice find!
[edit on 18-6-2010 by awakentired]
Originally posted by Iamonlyhuman
reply to post by getreadyalready
Did you watch the video above? It show a real example of one of those lakes that exploded.
I do hope that's not something we'll have to deal with. It certainly would be a devastating thing to happen, especially being 15 miles from the coast. Keep up with the news from all sources as they probably wouldn't announce the possibility of something like this.
Methane catastrophes have occurred several times in Earth's history, and when they have occurred, they have sometimes caused abrupt changes in the history of life, and at least one significant extinction. That extinction, at the end of the Permian Period 250 million years ago, is the greatest in the history of life. More than 90% of the then-existing species perished, and the course of life on Earth was altered forever.
The onset of a methane catastrophe would be abrupt because it could be initiated by a major submarine landslide, which can happen in a matter of days or even hours, or by the venting of vast quantities of seafloor methane over a period of decades.
If the deep ocean becomes fully anoxic (devoid of oxygen), it will also become toxic, as the remaining anaerobic organisms pump out the deadly gas hydrogen sulfide. In sufficient quantities, that gas could escape oceanic confinement to poison the atmosphere and, combining with the iron in the blood's hemoglobin, kill terrestrial organisms, including us.
Major anthropogenic global warming by carbon dioxide and possible methane catastrophe will be events more cataclysmic than any that can befall Earth, except for an impact with a giant asteroid or comet, or a stellar explosion in our neighborhood of the Milky Way. These other events, however, are quite rare and unlikely in our immediate future.