Methane hydrates, also known as clathrates, are crystalline ice structures which trap molecules of natural gas. They are fairly ubiquitous in near-shore seafloor sediments, where methane from decaying organic matter is trapped in an ice structure at low temperature and high pressure. Though methane hydrates are believed to contain substantially more natural gas than conventional deposits, extraction of the natural gas was thought to be impractical. Until now. [more inside]
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane have been have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. [more inside]
The clathrate gun hypothesis has been discussed previously, but now might be a good time to start considering it less hypothetical. [via] [more inside]
China and India have reported massive finds of frozen methane clathrate off their coasts and, along with Japan and other countries, are spending large sums to develop it into a new source of fossil energy. This is important for developing countries as there may be more frozen methane in the world than all the oil, gas and coal combined, and it is available right off their coasts. Some believe it can be extracted in a carbon neutral manner, but methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and the scarily named clathrate gun hypothesis provides some fuel for thought about digging this stuff up.