Research highlight

Abundant gas hydrates in Palaeogene oceans

Nature Geoscience

November 7, 2011

Warm seafloor temperatures preceding the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 56 million years ago could have supported abundant methane gas hydrates reports a paper published online in Nature Geoscience. This supports earlier suggestions that the dissociation of gas hydrates contributed to climate change during this abrupt warming event.

The involvement of gas hydrates in the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum warming has been challenged by the suggestion that the warm seafloor temperatures, which were about 4-7℃ higher than today, may not have supported sufficient quantities of gas hydrates. Guangsheng Gu and Gerald Dickens use numerical modelling to show that the decreased area of hydrate stability would have been compensated for by higher rates of methane production.

They conclude that the early Palaeogene oceans could have supported near-modern values of gas hydrates.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo1301

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