UC Santa Barbara
Natural marine seepage blowout: Contribution to atmospheric methane
- Author(s): Leifer, I
- Luyendyk, BP
- Boles, J
- Clark, JF
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1029/2005GB002668
The release of methane sequestered within deep-sea methane hydrates is postulated as a mechanism for abrupt climate change; however, whether emitted seabed methane reaches the atmosphere is debatable. We observed methane emissions for a blowout from a shallow (22 m) hydrocarbon seep. The emission from the blowout was determined from atmospheric plume measurements. Simulations suggest a 1.1% gas loss to dissolution compared to ∼ 10% loss for a typical low-flux bubble plume. Transfer to the atmosphere primarily was enhanced by the rapid upwelling flows induced by the massive discharge. This mechanism could allow methane suddenly released from deeper (>250 m) waters to contribute significantly to atmospheric methane budgets. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.