The scientists have found methane gas coming out bubbling from the seabed at least 570 locations off the East Coast of the United States at the meeting point of the continental shelf with the deeper Atlantic Ocean.
The locations from where the methane gas is emanating have been termed seeps by the scientists. The seepage is spread in wider area from near Cape Hatteras, N.C., to the Georges Bank southeast of Nantucket, Mass.. According to the researchers, the amount of gas released from these seeps is very tiny as compared with the total gas released from all sources each year.
The research was conducted by the scientists Carolyn Ruppel of the United States Geological Survey and Adam Skarke of Mississippi State University.
They found strong evidence suggesting that the seepage had been going on for a very long period, say at least 1,000 years.
Both the scientists said that the study may be of great importance for the environmental scientists and researchers as the findings can highly aid in better understanding the climatic issues and global warming, at least from the perspective of oceans and huge water bodies that plays important role in environmental phenomena.
As the seeps were found to be very deep, researchers say they suggested that in most instances the gas remained limited to the water body and didn’t reach the atmosphere. They dissolved in the oceans, making the water more acidic, at least in the area where the gas bubbled out of the sea floor.
Professor John Kessler from University of Rochester, who was not part of the study, said, “The research highlights a really key area where we can test some of the more radical hypotheses about climate change.”
Methane seeps is spread across the world. They usually occur in tectonically active regions like off the West Coast of the US or the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic margin.
“This is a large amount of methane seepage in an area we didn’t expect. That raises new questions for us,” Dr. Skarke said.
The findings of the research paper were published online on Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.