New Source of Methane Found in the Arctic

A research team led by a professor from the University of New Hampshire has identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates in the Arctic Ocean. A stable reservoir for abiotic methane was discovered and could impact global climate change.

A research team led by a professor from the University of New Hampshire has identified a new source of methane for gas hydrates in the Arctic Ocean. A stable reservoir for abiotic methane was discovered and could impact global climate change.  

"We've found an example where methane produced at a mid-ocean ridge is locked up in stable, deep water gas hydrate, preventing it from possibly getting out of the seafloor," says lead author Joel Johnson, associate professor of geology at UNH and guest researcher at the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.

The study was largely focused on the Arctic mid-ocean ridge system, which is one of two “ultraslow-spreading ridge regions on Earth. The abiotic methane there is generated by serpentization, a reaction of seawater with hot mantle-derived rocks exposed during slow to ultraslow mid-ocean ridge spreading.”

After taking two cruises in the Fram Strait region, the researchers used a seismic data acquisition system to find the methane hydrate system within the sediments. The team also found that the hydrate system is around two million years old. Such stability, claim the team, can produce methane that is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – important implications for climate change. 

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