Largest methane seep in the world found off the eastern coast of U.S.

June 19, 2013 SOUTH CAROLINAOn the seafloor just off of the U.S. East Coast lies a barely known world, explorations of which bring continual surprises. As recently as the mid-2000s, practically zero methane seeps — spots on the seafloor where gas leaks from the Earth’s crust — were thought to exist off the East Coast; while one had been reported more than a decade ago, it was thought to be one of a kind. But in the past two years, additional studies have revealed a host of new areas of seafloor rich in seeps, said Laura Brothers, a research geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. New technologies have allowed scientists to keep locating new seeps, including one that may be the largest in the world. The findings have changed geologists’ understanding of the processes taking place beneath the seafloor. “These newly discovered [seafloor] communities show that there is much more seafloor methane venting then we previously thought, and suggests that there are many more seeps out there that we don’t know about,” Brothers said.
An even larger, previously unknown vent was found off the coast of Virginia, in research by Steve Ross, a scientist at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Sandra Brooke, a scientist at Florida State University. Discovered near the Norfolk submarine canyon, the vent is the largest in the Atlantic, and possibly in all of the world’s oceans, Ross told LiveScience. North America’s continental shelf, the underwater edge of the continent that borders the Atlantic Ocean basin, is littered with underwater canyons etched by rivers thousands of years ago when the region was above sea level. These canyons remain little explored, Ross said. But he is helping to change that through his work aboard the Okeanos Explorer, a ship owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which for the last three years has been working to explore these submarine canyons. Scientists locate the seeps by producing images of methane gas bubbles (and where they originate) using multi-beam sonar, which calculates the amount of time and distance it takes for sound waves to travel from the ship to the bubbles and back. The same technique also produces detailed imagery of the seafloor. Remote-operated vehicles can then be dispatched to bring back photos of the ocean bottom, Ross said. All of these techniques are being used to document the gas seeps, he said.
Further imaging of the seafloor by the Okeanos Explorer last fall revealed another three gas seeps southeast of Nantucket, Mass., at a maximum depth of 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) below the ocean surface. Along with several new findings that haven’t been published yet, these newfound seeps add up to a total of about eight regions venting methane off of the East Coast, Ross said. However, Carolyn Ruppel, a researcher at the USGS, advised against declaring a specific number of seeps found, since this total is constantly increasing and since the determination of what constitutes an individual “seep” can be vague. “We expect many more to be discovered,’ Ruppel said. Much of this methane appears to be coming from methane gas hydrates, a crystallized form of methane stored in frigid sediment under the relatively high pressures of the deep ocean, Brothers said. Previously it wasn’t thought that a significant amount of this methane would be released from these deposits, which only give up their methane when weakened by lower pressures or rising temperatures. It’s unclear why some of these hydrates are producing methane gas, but it’s not a huge amount and unlikely to be enough to currently attract commercial interest, Brothers said. –Yahoo News
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24 Responses to Largest methane seep in the world found off the eastern coast of U.S.

  1. Wiseguy says:

    Even more bad news about methane, it’s growing exponentially:
    Scientist Igor Semiletov has sailed the Russian arctic ocean for years checking for small plumes of dangerous Methane gas. He’s mapped many of these meters-wide plumes, emitting gas 20 times more damaging to our climate than carbon dioxide. But on his last trip, as he came across the first plume, he couldn’t believe it. It was a KILOMETER wide. A vast column of gas spewing into our atmosphere. He sailed on and found another a kilometer wide, and another, and another. Hundreds of them.

    • Lyndon Eaton says:

      The release of huge amounts of methane gases and once frozen hydrates from the ocean floor could accelerate global warming. And this has nothing to do with cars and factories. The sun may be in a warming phase which has finally reached the warming and release of those frozen deposits under water. If so, we could see global warming happen exponentially in our lifetime.

      • Jennie McClintock says:

        It has everything to do with cars and factories. Mankinds obsession with extracting fossil fuels over the last 150 years has caused this excelerated crisis. And what is mans solution? Stop using fossil fuels and continue dumping chemtrails in the atmosphere as well as HAARP in the ionosphere. They even go as far as to encourage more GE crops. If only mankind would leave the Earth alone and learn how to coexist. Unfortunately, the small group of humans that run the world would rather destroy us all and the planet too. I think the safest bet is to be educated and active. You might want to move away from the coasts and the Mississippi while you’re at it.

  2. Godcontrol says:

    Fear – a way to get people to voluntarily leave the coastlines and move population more inland.

  3. Hisin says:

    Boats don’t float on gas. They fall to the bottom in seconds. Devils triangle is bogus but this isn’t.

  4. david says:

    I feel a rather large methane “burp” will be let go in the near future causing a tsunami that will wash up on the Eastern coast as a part of Gods judgement on mans choice to abide by his own laws and not Gods law. Gay marriage isn’t accepted by God, but is allowed in a few states, mostly on the northern east coast. Pieces of the puzzle are slowly fitting together to create the end picture of Heaven.

    • Jennie McClintock says:

      This is not about gay marraige. If you are truly a follower of Gods law you must know thqt God said he would destroy all who destroy his Earth. It is that simple.

  5. TLWillis says:

    A decade ago the US government was speculating on how best to tap the methane hydrates laying off the east coast. A great concern at the time and one which still haunts the prospect of hydrocarbon recovery there, is the fact that no one can predict how the geology of the continental shelf will react to having its pockets of hydrates penetrated and the pressure reduced. Will there be uncontrolled methane gasification? Will there be underwater landslides of great magnitude that pose tsunami risks?

  6. flyingcuttlefish says:

    maybe something below is forcing this methane upward . . .

  7. Germaine Andreas says:

      All their drilling  They may have caused it themselves   of course they would never admit it.


  8. Lyndon Eaton says:

    The methane releases are not just off the East coast of the US. there are many more methane releases in the Arctic regions, and possibly around Antartica. When all of these methane releases are added up, if that type of research is possible, the amount is enough to be alarming. It can also accelerate climate change

    • Chelle says:

      Interesting documentary on Blue Holes in the Bahamas and the forecast for climate extremes. You can find it on Youtube, just search “Blue Holes Nova” and the documentary will pop up it is well worth watching and proves that climate change occurs much more rapidly than previously thought.

  9. niebo says:


    After the first read, I “summarized” this as “knowledge shall increase/bad”, but then I read it again and found a few cues that point to propoganda. NOWHERE in the article does it mention “increase of occurence”; according to this article, this phenomenon is not “new” or “increasing” or “more frequent”, and the words “seismic disruption/ disturbance/ anomoly” are also absent, along with all mentions of “tectonic” anything. However, “additional studies have revealed NEW AREAS of SEAFLOOR rich in seeps”, (which is very odd in itself for the suggestion that the seafloor is new AND is rich is seeps,) while “new technologies have allowed scientists to KEEP LOCATING new seeps” (not “to locate NEW seeps”), and “there is much more seafloor methane venting then [sic] we PREVIOUSLY thought, and suggests that there are many MORE SEEPS OUT THERE that we don’t know about.” Likewise, “previously unknown vent” and “revealed another three” plus “a total of about eight” (about eight? Is that a unit of math or of time? Does it mean 7:45 or 8:15, or that you cannot count?) suggest that the “total is constantly increasing” since “we expect many more to be discovered.” Oh, and “vague” is in there, too. All of which means . . . there is nothing to see here but scientific breakthroughs.

    So, “knowledge shall increase/bad” still applies, but I’ll skip the “geology” folder and put it where it belongs in “lies and cover-ups”.

    • Jennie McClintock says:

      I know what you mean however the Arctic Sea ice is melting/disappearing and the permafrost crisis has led to the evacuation of hundreds of villages in Alaska. Therefor propoganda, although more appealing than extinction, it is most likely not.

  10. I wonder if any of these seeps could cause trouble for surface or sub-surface ships?

  11. Irene C says:

    That’s not good. We’re okay (I think) if it seeps slowly, but not if it’s a sudden expulsion.

  12. barry says:

    Im going to get all hippy on here, “the world is a living organism and even the world has to pass gas from time to time”, there, someone had to say it.

  13. Tom says:

    Methane is a very powerful greenhousegas so it could mean trouble ahead
    If the permafrost in the arctic region would melt then we could see a whopping 5-6 degree rise in global temperature= massdeath

    there is a nonbiblical prophecy from 1100 that goes something like this
    “As man begins experementing with the
    earth itself, the sun becomes a mighty
    That can relate to todays world with the global oil and gas industry

    • Lyndon Eaton says:

      I have seen numerous articles talking about the release of methane gas from ancient frozen deposits. the experts were concerned that as the ocean temps rose, that a tipping point would be reached, creating massive releases of methane gas into the atmosphere. Once that happens it accelerates the green house affect and the warming of earth gets even higher, faster. It has happened before in history, it is a natural cycle.

  14. Dennis E. says:

    I do know that a thesis or a hypothesis was written and posted called “its’ a gas,gas,gas on the internet that warned about the world wide release of methane gas,hydrogen sulfide from the ocean,lakes,etc, and several predictions was that we would see increased deaths of sea animals,unexplained explosions along the coast and deaths of people in low lying areas. I have yet to hear of any deaths of anyone suffocating from the release of methane, fishing but I know at times, when driving and I pass a swamp you get that rotten egg smell and I remember that it used to be called swamp gas.
    Also, it is being reported that magma is rising in a vent and the current estimated depth is 6-4 miles and rising at the Long valley caldera,California and in the past week there has been 2800 tremors more than in the last 30 years and some people seem to be concerned.

    • The danger was always perceived to be on the West Coast of the U.S. – any mighty earthquake on the sea floor could unsettle these methane seeps and cause them to potentially exsolve.

      Concerning the Long Valley Caldera: This is a plot chart of tremor activity at the Long Valley Caldera from July of 2012, to now. It shows a steady increase in activity. Magma levels may indeed be rising as the North American plate is stressed by greater movements in adjunct with the Pacific Plate.

    • fubar says:

      The site that you are referring to is called: Jumping Jack Flash Hypothesis: It’s a Gas Gas Gas.
      For the last 8 months I’ve been reading the daily reports at the JJFH blog & most of his (the creator of this hypothesis) predictions have come true. The Arctic-News blog is another good site to monitor.

    • aaronwt says:

      Methane is an odorless gas.

    • Jennie McClintock says:

      People would not suffocate from methane as it is very light weight and would rise. People would suffocate from hydrogen sulfide, which in low levels, gives off a rotten egg smell. In high levels it is undetectable and will you in a few breaths. Methane would accumulate in our atmosphere and massive methane clouds would surround us. Methane is highly flammable and would set fire easily and a massive firey explosion would travel around the globe. This is what scientist believe wiped out the dinosaurs.

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