US seeps create gas bubble of interest

american-flag25 August 2014, News Wires – The reported discovery by scientists of methane seepages from the seabed off the East Coast of the US is set to cause a mild ripple of excitement among explorers over the possible presence of subterranean gas in the untapped play.

The methane is emanating from at least 570 locations – so-called seeps – on the seafloor in an area stretching from near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Georges Bank, south-east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, according to an online paper published in the Natural Geoscience journal at the weekend.

Scientists who co-authored the report believe the seepages, which create bubbles rising to the surface, may have been going on for the past 1000 years.

Co-author Dr Carolyn Ruppel said about 40 of the seeps, located in water depths exceeding 3300 feet, may be migrating up through sediment layers from deeper reservoirs of the gas.

If the gas is found to be originating from reservoirs, then oil companies could potentially be interested in determining whether the reservoirs can be tapped.

Ruppel said though that most of the seeps are occurring in water depths of about 800 to 2000 feet where the methane, which is produced by microbes, is most likely trapped in sediments near the seafloor within hydrates.

She explained that hydrates in such relatively shallow depths are very sensitive to small temperature changes that enable methane to easily seep out.

The surprise discovery of the seepages where the US continental shelf meets the Atlantic Ocean may though assis the study of an issue of concern to climate scientists – the potential for the release of huge stores of methane on land and under the seas as warming of the atmosphere and oceans continues.


– Upstream

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