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Increased methane emissions from deep osmotic and buoyant convection beneath submarine seeps as climate warms.

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Cardoso, Silvana SS 
Cartwright, Julyan HE 

Abstract

High speeds have been measured at seep and mud-volcano sites expelling methane-rich fluids from the seabed. Thermal or solute-driven convection alone cannot explain such high velocities in low-permeability sediments. Here we demonstrate that in addition to buoyancy, osmotic effects generated by the adsorption of methane onto the sediments can create large overpressures, capable of recirculating seawater from the seafloor to depth in the sediment layer, then expelling it upwards at rates of up to a few hundreds of metres per year. In the presence of global warming, such deep recirculation of seawater can accelerate the melting of methane hydrates at depth from timescales of millennia to just decades, and can drastically increase the rate of release of methane into the hydrosphere and perhaps the atmosphere.

Description

Keywords

physics.geo-ph, physics.geo-ph, nlin.AO, physics.flu-dyn

Journal Title

Nat Commun

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

2041-1723
2041-1723

Volume Title

7

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Sponsorship
Leverhulme Trust (1594)