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New study reveals cracks beneath giant, methane gushing craters

Craters found on the seafloor of the Barents Sea are up to a kilometer wide and 35 meters deep. They are still leaking methane. Credit: Malin Waage A paper published in Science in 2017 described hundreds of massive, kilometer-wide craters on the ocean floor in the Barents Sea. Today, more than 600 gas flares have been identified in and around these craters, releasing the greenhouse gas steadily into the water column. Another study, published the same year in PNAS , mapped several methane mounds, some 500 meters wide, in the Barents Sea. The mounds were considered to be signs of impending methane expulsions that created the craters.

The most recent study in Scientific Reports looks into the depths far beneath these craters in the ocean floor and reveals the geological structures that have made the area prone to crater formation and subsequent methane expulsions.

“It turns out that this area has a very old fault system—essentially, cracks in bedrock that likely formed 250 million years ago,” says Malin Waage, a postdoc at CAGE, Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate, and the first author of the study. “Craters and mounds appear along different fault structures in this system. “These structures […]

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