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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Natural marine seepage blowout: Contribution to atmospheric methane

  • Author(s): Leifer, I
  • Luyendyk, BP
  • Boles, J
  • Clark, JF
  • et al.

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.

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