Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
Stock Market SEASONAL TREND and ELECTION CYCLE - 24th Nov 20
Amazon Black Friday - Karcher K7 FC Pressure Washer Assembly and 1st Use - Is it Any Good? - 24th Nov 20
I Dislike Shallow People And Shallow Market Pullbacks - 24th Nov 20
Small Traders vs. Large Traders vs. Commercials: Who Is Right Most Often? - 24th Nov 20
10 Reasons You Should Trade With a Regulated Broker In UK - 24th Nov 20
Stock Market Elliott Wave Analysis - 23rd Nov 20
Evolution of the Fed - 23rd Nov 20
Gold and Silver Now and Then - A Comparison - 23rd Nov 20
Nasdaq NQ Has Stalled Above a 1.382 Fibonacci Expansion Range Three Times - 23rd Nov 20
Learn How To Trade Forex Successfully - 23rd Nov 20
Market 2020 vs 2016 and 2012 - 22nd Nov 20
Gold & Silver - Adapting Dynamic Learning Shows Possible Upside Price Rally - 22nd Nov 20
Stock Market Short-term Correction - 22nd Nov 20
Stock Market SPY/SPX Island Setups Warn Of A Potential Reversal In This Uptrend - 21st Nov 20
Why Budgies Make Great Pets for Kids - 21st Nov 20
How To Find The Best Dry Dog Food For Your Furry Best Friend?  - 21st Nov 20
The Key to a Successful LGBT Relationship is Matching by Preferences - 21st Nov 20
Stock Market Dow Long-term Trend Analysis - 20th Nov 20
Margin: How Stock Market Investors Are "Reaching for the Stars" - 20th Nov 20
World’s Largest Free-Trade Pact Inspiration for Global Economic Recovery - 20th Nov 20
Dating Sites Break all the Stereotypes About Distance - 20th Nov 20
THE STOCK MARKET BIG PICTURE - Video - 19th Nov 20
Reasons why Bitcoin is Treading at it's Highest Level Since 2017 and a Warning - 19th Nov 20
Media Celebrates after Trump’s Pro-Gold Fed Nominee Gets Blocked - 19th Nov 20
DJIA Short-term Stock Market Technical Trend Analysis - 19th Nov 20
Demoncracy Ushers in the Flu World Order How to Survive and Profit From What Is Coming - 19th Nov 20
US Bond Market: "When Investors Should Worry" - 18th Nov 20
Gold Remains the Best Pandemic Insurance - 18th Nov 20
GPU Fan Not Spinning FIX - How to Easily Extend the Life of Your Gaming PC System - 18th Nov 20
Dow Jones E-Mini Futures Tag 30k Twice – Setting Up Stock Market Double Top - 18th Nov 20
Edge Computing Is Leading the Next Great Tech Revolution - 18th Nov 20
This Chart Signals When Gold Stocks Will Explode - 17th Nov 20
Gold Price Momentous ally From 2000 Compared To SPY Stock Market and Nasdaq - 17th Nov 20
Creating Marketing Campaigns Using the Freedom of Information Act - 17th Nov 20
ILLEGITIMATE PRESIDENT - 17th Nov 20
Stock Market Uptrend in Process - 17th Nov 20
How My Friend Made $128,000 Investing in Stocks Without Knowing It - 16th Nov 20
Free-spending Biden and/or continued Fed stimulus will hike Gold prices - 16th Nov 20
Top Cheap Budgie Toys - Every Budgie Owner Should Have These Safe Bird Toys! - 16th Nov 20
Line Up For Your Jab to get your Covaids Freedom Pass and a 5% Work From Home Tax - 16th Nov 20
You May Have Overlooked These “Sleeper” Precious Metals - 16th Nov 20
Demystifying interesting facts about online Casinos - 16th Nov 20
What's Ahead for the Gold Market? - 15th Nov 20
Gold’s Momentous Rally From 2000 Compared To Stock Market SPY & QQQ - 15th Nov 20
Overclockers UK Quality of Custom Gaming System Build - OEM Windows Sticker? - 15th Nov 20
UK GCSE Exams 2021 CANCELLED! Grades Based on Mock Exams and Teacher Assessments - 15th Nov 20
Global "Debt Mountain": Beware of This "New Peak" - 13th Nov 20
Overclocking Zen 3 Ryzen 5600x, 5800x, 5900x and 5950x to 4.7ghz All Cores Cinebench R20 Scores - 13th Nov 20
Is Silver Leading Bitcoin or is Bitcoin Leading Silver? - 13th Nov 20
How Elliott Waves Simplify Your Technical Analysis - 13th Nov 20
How to buy Bitcoins using debit/credit card? - 13th Nov 20
Will COVID Vaccine Kill Gold and Silver? - 12th Nov 20
Access to Critical Market Reports - 12th Nov 20
Stock Market Dow Futures Reach 30,000 on News of COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Success - 12th Nov 20
8 Terms & Conditions You Must Know Before Asking For Life Insurance Policy Quotes - 12th Nov 20
Gold Stocks Post 2020 US Election Outlook - 11th Nov 20
Champions’ League Group Stage Draw: All You Need To Know - 11th Nov 20
Stock Market Secular Trend - 11th Nov 20
Stock Market Correction Curtailed by US Election - 11th Nov 20
What Causes a Financial Bubble? - 11th Nov 20
Ryzen 9 5900X RTX 3080 - Scan.co.uk vs Overclockers.co.uk UK Custom PC System Builder Review - 10th Nov 20
Killing Driveway Weeds FAST with a Pressure Washer - Saving Block Paving from LOTS of WEEDs - 10th Nov 20
Trump Fired, Biden Hired, What Next?  - 10th Nov 20
Looking for a Personal Loan? Here Is What You Have To Know  - 10th Nov 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

BP Gulf Oil Gusher: Methane, Climate & Dead Zones

Politics / Environmental Issues Jul 11, 2010 - 12:53 PM GMT

By: DK_Matai

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleDK Matai writes: Gas and Methane Levels At Record

As much as one million times the normal level of methane is showing up near the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher, enough potentially to create dead zones in the water. "These are higher levels than we have ever seen at any other location in the ocean itself," according to sources cited by Reuters. The "flow team" of the US Geological Survey estimates that 2,900 cubic feet of natural gas, which primarily contains methane, is being released into the Gulf waters with every barrel of oil.


The constant flow of around 65,000 barrels of crude oil places the total daily amount of natural gas at over 188 million cubic feet. So far, over 13 billion cubic feet may have been released, making it one of the most vigorous methane eruptions in modern human history. The crude oil from the "Macondo Prospect" well contains around 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits. To add to the challenge, methane and other toxic gases are trapped in deep water locations. Methane measurements can give a view to the extent of the oil gush in the Gulf of Mexico. Note our previous briefing: "Gulf Oil Gusher: Danger of Tsunamis From Methane?"

Dead Fish

Accelerating Effects

Like-for-like, methane is 23 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide or CO2 at trapping solar radiation, as recognised within the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Methane is far more reflective and calculated over a period of 20 years, as opposed to 100 years, its radiative force is 72 times that of CO2 emissions. This makes vast releases of methane very powerful "positive feedback" loops that accelerate global warming.

Volatile Dead Zones

Dead zones are large regions of water that are very low in oxygen, a condition known as "hypoxia" and therefore they can't support life. At times in earth's history, the ocean currents have failed to stir the deepest waters. That is true today of the entire Black Sea, for instance. In those cases, whole ocean basins have stagnated. Conditions there eventually become anoxic -- without oxygen -- as the oxygen in the water disappears denying life. Above the water, the dead zones don't look any different from the surrounding waters. But along the bottom, there's practically no oxygen -- so fish don't swim in it, and bottom dwelling creatures die off.

Underwater toxic clouds of oil and methane gas have now been confirmed as originating from the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. One of these clouds, encompassing an area the size of San Francisco and 600 feet thick, was found at 3,000 feet or more beneath the surface. Researchers studying the clouds have found concentrations of methane up to 10,000 times greater than normal and oxygen levels depleted by 30 to 40 percent below normal, according to various agencies. Given the rising number of numerous underwater clouds of methane of various sizes, what is the likelihood that they make their way to the surface either gradually or explosively?

As a result of the toxic methane clouds, oil and dispersants, organisms in the Gulf of Mexico are suffocating and it also explains why microbes that require oxygen to break down the oil are not cleaning the spill naturally. Worse is that long-lived "dead zones", ie zones without oxygen are likely, drifting through the Gulf of Mexico and perhaps over deep-water ecosystems where recovery time can be centuries, or not at all. Other larger clouds have been reported, and a large-scale coordinated effort is in motion.

Methane Driven Oceanic Eruption

It is worth considering the following scenario based on a volcano-like release of methane. Prof Gregory Ryskin, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University in the US, suggests that the culprit for the Permian extinction event may be an enormous cascading eruption of natural gas -- primarily methane --coming from the ocean depths. In a scientific article published in the September 2003 issue of Geology, Prof Ryskin suggested that huge combustible clouds produced by methane gas trapped in stagnant bodies of water and suddenly released could have killed off the majority of marine life and land animals and plants at the end of the Permian era -- long before dinosaurs lived and died.

According to Prof Ryskin, "Methane Driven Oceanic Eruption" is nothing new. Gigantic eruptions of methane gas dissolved in the deep ocean waters have occurred regularly throughout history, including ice ages and perhaps even the Biblical flood. "That amount of energy is absolutely staggering," according to Ryskin. "As soon as one accepts this mechanism, it becomes clear that if it happened once it can happen again." However, Prof Mark Maslin, director of the University College London (UCL) Environment Institute, points out that the conditions during the end of the Permian may have differed in comparison to the modern world, in terms of temperature, circulation and oxygen level within oceans.

Like A Volcano

Unlike oil, significant amount of methane gas dissolves in deep cold water. However, as that methane-water rises, the gas comes out of the solution and creates a methane mist, whose volume is seven times greater than pure water because of much reduced pressure. The resulting eruption is likely to spread quickly and release a part of the ocean basin's worth of natural gas in great clouds into the atmosphere. These could ignite because the amounts of flammable gas would be enormous. The subsequent fires and explosions would be catastrophic. A similar process is responsible for the most violent, explosive volcanic eruptions such as the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE or Mount St Helens in 1980. Those eruptions were driven by the escape of gases -- primarily water vapour -- dissolved in the liquid magma. However, in the underwater case the gas would be methane dissolved in liquid sea water with a similar result. A detailed description is available in Prof Ryskin's paper -- "Methane-driven oceanic eruptions and mass extinctions" -- with multiple citations of the paper by well known peers across the world.

Climate Domino Effects

Scientists have been discussing a number of scenarios of methane escaping from the ocean floor for some time. The sudden release of large amounts of natural gas -- primarily methane -- could be a cause of past, present and future climate chaos. It is believed that the release of trapped methane is a main factor in the global warming of 6°C that happened during the end-Permian extinction. "Methane Driven Oceanic Eruption" also predicts this will greatly affect available oxygen content of the atmosphere. As temperature rises, the permafrost is likely to melt. The methane released from beneath the permafrost could increase temperatures further, melting the permafrost faster, releasing even more methane, and so on. It is feared that such a scenario would accelerate Global Warming to the point where nothing humankind could do would reverse the problem. Note our previous briefing: "Butterfly Effect, Oi Gusher & Edge of Chaos: World Wide Summit?" However on the positive side, Prof Maslin in London points out that our estimates of the amount of methane locked up in gas hydrates on the planet have dropped over the last 3 decades as we learn more. A summary of our current knowledge can be found in "Gas Hydrates: Past and Future Geohazard?" by Maslin et al published in 2010.

Difference Between Methane and Gas Hydrates

Methane Clathrate -- also known as Methane Hydrates or Gas Hydrates -- is a form of naturally occurring water ice that contains a large amount of methane within its crystal structure. Methane Hydrates -- "the ice that burns" -- are one of the alternative sources of hydrocarbon fuels -- and one with reserves estimated to be larger than those of oil, gas and coal combined. Methane hydrates were first discovered in the 1970s. Their unique characteristic is that they are seemingly frozen and yet flammable. Over the last few years, China and India have reported massive finds of frozen methane gas off their coasts, which they hoped would satisfy their energy needs.

Environmentalists have expressed their concern that tapping methane hydrates could have adverse effects on the world climate from escaping methane that comes from the ocean floor. They believe that this methane could heat up the world's climate to a far greater extent than coal, oil and natural gas do today. However, this number is constantly being revised downwards and Prof David Archer et al at the Department of The Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, suggested in 2009 that methane release from gas hydrates could add a maximum of another 0.5°C to global warming by 2100.

Global Warming & The Gun Hypothesis

Although not related to Prof Ryskin's "Methane Driven Oceanic Eruption", the clathrate gun hypothesis works on the basis that rises in sea temperatures can trigger the sudden release of methane from methane clathrate compounds buried in seabeds and permafrost. The methane itself is a powerful greenhouse gas and this leads to further temperature rises and methane clathrate destabilisation -- in effect initiating a runaway process as irreversible, once started, as the firing of a gun. There is stronger evidence that runaway methane clathrate breakdown may have caused drastic alteration of the ocean environment and the atmosphere of earth on a number of occasions in the past. The seminal paper in this regard is the "Methane Hydrates in Quaternary Climate Change: The Clathrate Gun Hypothesis" by Prof James Kennett et al, at the Department of Geological Sciences and Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, published in 2003. Prof Maslin points out that subsequent scientific research has shown that though this was a very nice theory at the time, recent evidence suggests that the expansion and contraction of both tropical and high latitude wetlands control the long term evolution of methane in the atmosphere.

Oceanic Methane's Significance

What caused the worst mass extinction in earth's history 251 million years ago? An asteroid or comet colliding with earth? A greenhouse effect? Volcanic eruptions in Siberia? Or an entirely different culprit? There is strong evidence that a runaway methane driven oceanic eruption may have caused drastic alteration of the ocean environment and the atmosphere of earth on a number of occasions in the past, over timescales of tens of thousands of years; most notably in connection with the Permian extinction event. Though these extremely low probablity high impact events from the past seem like science fiction, they do provide evidence of how the Earth System can operate. Prof Maslin in London suggests that methane release from gas hydrates is an additional effect. This could potentially be another geohazard, alongside natural gas or methane release in large quantities. We need to study methane gas emissions and monitor methane hydrates to ensure we understand the explosive potential of these reserves and the likelihood of tsunami generation, in combination, or on their own.

Conclusion

It is important to recognise the role that methane has played throughout history in causing massive turbulence within the Earth System. At this stage of the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe, it is important to pay close attention to the role that methane is playing in creating dead zones and potential sources for volatile eruption that could affect not just sea-based, but also land- and air-based life. Although a global-scale methane driven oceanic eruption is highly unlikely at present, there may be stagnant, oxygen-poor basins in the ocean where methane might accumulate to dangerous levels. Even a small explosion of that methane could cause a catastrophe. Imagine what would happen if such an event occurred. Tsunamis could be generated in continuous waves. Methane and water clouds would auto-ignite and the massive fires could cause widespread destruction.

Consequences could be global. "I have little doubt there will be another methane-driven eruption -- though not on the same scale as 251 million years ago -- unless humans intervene," says Prof Ryskin. Even if there is only a small probability that such eruptions could occur, we should start looking for areas of the ocean where this might be most likely, beginning with the underwater gas clouds and dead zones now being spawned by the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. Could the methane also be mined using techniques developed within hydro-pondages? Maybe we could tap the methane as an energy source and burn it to produce electricity before it gets into the atmosphere. What would be your suggestions for diffusing those very large underwater methane clouds especially if, on their way to the surface, they could erupt explosively?

By DK Matai

www.mi2g.net

Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA) & The Philanthropia

We welcome your participation in this Socratic dialogue. Please access by clicking here.

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 120 countries: including 1,000 Parliamentarians; 1,500 Chairmen and CEOs of corporations; 1,000 Heads of NGOs; 750 Directors at Academic Centres of Excellence; 500 Inventors and Original thinkers; as well as 250 Editors-in-Chief of major media.

The Philanthropia, founded in 2005, brings together over 1,000 leading individual and private philanthropists, family offices, foundations, private banks, non-governmental organisations and specialist advisors to address complex global challenges such as countering climate chaos, reducing radical poverty and developing global leadership for the younger generation through the appliance of science and technology, leveraging acumen and finance, as well as encouraging collaboration with a strong commitment to ethics. Philanthropia emphasises multi-faith spiritual values: introspection, healthy living and ecology. Philanthropia Targets: Countering climate chaos and carbon neutrality; Eliminating radical poverty -- through micro-credit schemes, empowerment of women and more responsible capitalism; Leadership for the Younger Generation; and Corporate and social responsibility.

© 2010 Copyright DK Matai - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules