Escape of methane gas from the seabed along the West Spitsbergen continental margin


Westbrook, Graham K., Thatcher, Kate E., Rohling, Eelco J., Piotrowski, Alexander M., Pälike, Heiko, Osborne, Anne H., Nisbet, Euan G., Minshull, Tim A., Lanoisellé, Mathias, James, Rachael H., Huhnerbach, Veit, Green, Darryl, Fisher, Rebecca E., Crocker, Anya J., Chabert, Anne, Bolton, Clara, Beszczynska-Möller, Agnieszka, Berndt, Christian and Aquilina, Alfred (2009) Escape of methane gas from the seabed along the West Spitsbergen continental margin. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L15608. (doi:10.1029/2009GL039191).

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Description/Abstract

More than 250 plumes of gas bubbles have been discovered emanating from the seabed of the West Spitsbergen continental margin, in a depth range of 150-400 m, at and above the present upper limit of the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ). Some of the plumes extend upward to within 50 m of the sea surface. The gas is predominantly methane. Warming of the northward-flowing West Spitsbergen current by 1°C over the last thirty years is likely to have increased the release of methane from the seabed by reducing the extent of the GHSZ, causing the liberation of methane from decomposing hydrate. If this process becomes widespread along Arctic continental margins, tens of Teragrams of methane per year could be released into the ocean.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0094-8276 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Methane hydrate
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Ocean & Earth Science (SOC/SOES)
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > National Oceanography Centre (NERC)
ePrint ID: 64607
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2009
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2014 10:11
Research Funder: NERC
Projects:
Dynamics of gas hydrates in polar marine environments.
Funded by: NERC (NE/D005728/1)
Led by: Christian Berndt
14 November 2007 to 13 January 2008
Contact Email Address: heiko@noc.soton.ac.uk
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/64607

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