Spring 2003,
Volume 24, Number 1

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ocean floor methane gas hydrates
It's a gas
These are the world’s first high quality images of ocean floor methane gas hydrates, explored this summer off the west coast of Vancouver Island by researchers led by UVic geophysicist Ross Chapman using the ROPOS robotic submersible.
The icy substance—located 850 metres below the surface, spread across three or four square kilometres, and created under extreme pressure and sub-zero temperatures—would catch fire if brought to the surface and ignited. It would also smell pretty bad, like rotten eggs.
A relatively new area of ocean science, the fundamental study of methane gas hydrates has two significant implications: it’s a potentially vast hydrocarbon energy source (though the extraction technology is decades away), and it may contribute to global climate change (methane is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide).

Image 1: A hydrate glacier.

Image 2: Methane hydrate fragments and oil are released by the submersible’s drill.

Image 3: A solid hydrate cap or “pingo” the size of a small car.

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