to Nature home page
home
search






Nature12 December 2002

 nature highlights

Oceanography: Methane hydrate

An immense amount of methane, at least twice the amount of carbon present in all known fossil fuels on Earth, is thought to be trapped in the oceans as a gas hydrate. This is a crystalline solid consisting of methane molecules each surrounded by a cage of water molecules, stable only at temperatures and pressures typical of water depths below 300 metres. New work shows that the phase boundary at the base of the hydrate stability zone is surprisingly uneven. This may mean that more gas hydrate in marine sediments is close to being unstable than was previously thought, and therefore more likely to split to form methane and water in the event of a fall in sea level.

letters to nature
Decreased stability of methane hydrates in marine sediments owing to phase-boundary roughness
W. T. WOOD, J. F. GETTRUST, N. R. CHAPMAN, G. D. SPENCE & R. D. HYNDMAN
Nature 420, 656–660 (2002); doi:10.1038/nature01263
| First Paragraph | Full Text (HTML / PDF) |

news and views
Oceanography: Gas hydrates on the brink
INGO A. PECHER
Huge amounts of methane are locked up in deposits that lie deep beneath the sea floor. New seismic images reveal that these deposits possess unexpected features that might affect their stability.
Nature 420, 622–623 (2002); doi:10.1038/420622a
| Full Text (HTML / PDF) |

12 December 2002 table of contents

  
  © 2002 Nature Publishing Group