New methane scare off Washington coast begs the question: did anybody look for these before?

I have to wonder, before the scientific world went nuts looking for GHG boogymen under every rock and tree, had anyone observed methane venting in this area before? While they enlisted the help of fishermen now, would anyone bothered to have documented these bubble plumes 50-100 years ago? I think not. They claim “… it is not likely to be just emitted from the sediments; this appears to be coming from the decomposition of methane that has been frozen for thousands of years.” yet offer no methodology for how they determined that. I seems to be little more than the opinion of the researcher.

Then there’s the question, is this simply a natural variation that is part of the PDO shift, and the “blob” off the Pacific NW coast is responsible? These are pertinent questions that seem to have been overlooked, and I find this study suspect anyway, because by their own admission, the press release precedes the actual publication of the paper. The October 2015 edition of Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems is not out yet. Science is not supposed to be done to grab headlines ahead of publication. It seems more like COP21 “me too” frenzy than science.


Bubble plumes off Washington, Oregon suggest warmer ocean may be releasing frozen methane

Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) depth. CREDIT Brendan Philip/University of Washington

Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) depth. CREDIT Brendan Philip/University of Washington

Warming ocean temperatures a third of a mile below the surface, in a dark ocean in areas with little marine life, might attract scant attention. But this is precisely the depth where frozen pockets of methane ‘ice’ transition from a dormant solid to a powerful greenhouse gas.

New University of Washington research suggests that subsurface warming could be causing more methane gas to bubble up off the Washington and Oregon coast.

The study, to appear in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, shows that of 168 bubble plumes observed within the past decade, a disproportionate number were seen at a critical depth for the stability of methane hydrates.

“We see an unusually high number of bubble plumes at the depth where methane hydrate would decompose if seawater has warmed,” said lead author H. Paul Johnson, a UW professor of oceanography. “So it is not likely to be just emitted from the sediments; this appears to be coming from the decomposition of methane that has been frozen for thousands of years.”

Methane has contributed to sudden swings in Earth’s climate in the past. It is unknown what role it might contribute to contemporary climate change, although recent studies have reported warming-related methane emissions in Arctic permafrost and off the Atlantic coast.

Of the 168 methane plumes in the new study, some 14 were located at the transition depth – more plumes per unit area than on surrounding parts of the Washington and Oregon seafloor.

If methane bubbles rise all the way to the surface, they enter the atmosphere and act as a powerful greenhouse gas. But most of the deep-sea methane seems to get consumed during the journey up. Marine microbes convert the methane into carbon dioxide, producing lower-oxygen, more-acidic conditions in the deeper offshore water, which eventually wells up along the coast and surges into coastal waterways.

“Current environmental changes in Washington and Oregon are already impacting local biology and fisheries, and these changes would be amplified by the further release of methane,” Johnson said.

Another potential consequence, he said, is the destabilization of seafloor slopes where frozen methane acts as the glue that holds the steep sediment slopes in place.

Methane deposits are abundant on the continental margin of the Pacific Northwest coast. A 2014 study from the UW documented that the ocean in the region is warming at a depth of 500 meters (0.3 miles), by water that formed decades ago in a global warming hotspot off Siberia and then traveled with ocean currents east across the Pacific Ocean. That previous paper calculated that warming at this depth would theoretically destabilize methane deposits on the Cascadia subduction zone, which runs from northern California to Vancouver Island.

At the cold temperatures and high pressures present on the continental margin, methane gas in seafloor sediments forms a crystal lattice structure with water. The resulting icelike solid, called methane hydrate, is unstable and sensitive to changes in temperature. When the ocean warms, the hydrate crystals dissociate and methane gas leaks into the sediment. Some of that gas escapes from the sediment pores as a gas.

The 2014 study calculated that with present ocean warming, such hydrate decomposition could release roughly 0.1 million metric tons of methane per year into the sediments off the Washington coast, about the same amount of methane from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout.

The new study looks for evidence of bubble plumes off the coast, including observations by UW research cruises, earlier scientific studies and local fishermen’s reports. The authors included bubble plumes that rose at least 150 meters (490 feet) tall that clearly originate from the seafloor. The dataset included 45 plumes originally detected by fishing boats, whose modern sonars can detect the bubbles while looking for schools of fish, with their observations later confirmed during UW research cruises.

Results show that methane gas is slowly released at almost all depths along the Washington and Oregon coastal margin. But the plumes are significantly more common at the critical depth of 500 meters, where hydrate would decompose due to seawater warming.

“What we’re seeing is possible confirmation of what we predicted from the water temperatures: Methane hydrate appears to be decomposing and releasing a lot of gas,” Johnson said. “If you look systematically, the location on the margin where you’re getting the largest number of methane plumes per square meter, it is right at that critical depth of 500 meters.”

Still unknown, however, is whether these plumes are really from the dissociation of frozen methane deposits. [bold mine, Anthony]

“The results are consistent with the hypothesis that modern bottom-water warming is causing the limit of methane hydrate stability to move downslope, but it’s not proof that the hydrate is dissociating,” said co-author Evan Solomon, a UW associate professor of oceanography.

Solomon is now analyzing the chemical composition of samples from bubble plumes emitted by sediments along the Washington coast at about 500 meters deep. Results will confirm whether the gas originates from methane hydrates rather than from some other source, such as the passive migration of methane from deeper reservoirs to the seafloor, which causes most of the other bubble plumes on the continental margin.


Note: Shortly after publication, some text formatting errors were corrected, and bolding of a statement added.


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

For safety we should extract and burn this methane.
While we’re on, what’s all this dangerous water doing around the planet? This stuff is lethal. Just a bucket of the stuff can drown you.

In Santa Barbara, the seeping methane has been captured for the last 3 decades. It goes into the gas distribution system.


I grew up in SB. I remember in ’64, the big oil spill and a lot of the tar balls are still there from that…Besides the natural seeps. I grew up surfing at the beach, “Haskells”, where a Japanese Submarine surfaced, shelled and blew up an oil facility in 1942. Now, the old oil wells underneath the area, just north of Goleta, are used as Natural Gas storage facilities of the So. Cal. Gas Co. I’ve been working for them, the Southern Calif. Gas Company for 28 years now and don’t think they are injecting “seeping methane” into our transmission or distribution systems. Maybe you can cite that for me if you have access or recall where that info came from. There are a lot of factors that have to be taken into account before a seep can be introduced into a Gas Utility system, such as BTUs, humidity, various other chemicals and gasses, etc., that need to be addressed before introduction. Plus the necessary compression for the seepage to be injected into the system and where it is introduced. Natural gas systems must maintain very strict standards for the product it sells.
Also, a person can find methane “seeping” from any area where biological material has been buried long enough to start decomposing. It is not at all unusual and is very common all over the world. Garbage dumps are huge reservoirs of methane that have, in the last 20 years, began to capture methane for use in some city electrical generation plants…Glendale, Ca. for example


Also, Washington state sits atop a subduction zone which has a very real potential for gas seepage… Similar to gasses released from volcanic activity above surface. Unless Captain Nemo is available to help us find out just what these releases are from, we may never know. /S


I didn’t know you could detect Methane bubbles with radar !!!!


We will give you another chance.


Are you saying they can define ” Methane ” bubbles from other bubbles with radar ????

Soar, Marcus.

Sonar! Beggin yer pardon.


Awwww borehead…you ruined my scientific observation of how long it would take Marcus to discover that while sonar and radar are similar principles, they aren’t interchangeable, and he used the wrong one and that fishermen using sonar while they are looking for schools of fish most likely distinguish the difference between “Methane” bubbles and fish bubbles by….um….er…..the LACK of fish accompanying the Methane bubbles.

Lol! Sorry Aphan. Didn’t realize you were waiting for that. I am thrilled to get some response here, though! Thank you. The fishing industry is my wheel house. I love this website, and as hard as I’ve tried in the past to get attention regarding NOAA, our common adversary, it’s been fruitless.
The industry that feeds people is subjected to the same tactics as the climate truthers. We are being eliminated with NOAA pseudo science, and ginned up stock surveys. Its the garbage in-garbage out results.
Make no mistake, its the same people.


We have a similar, but not analogous problem in the UK – strictly I Sub-Region 4a of the EU.
[Some folk spell that EUSSR, but they’re drama queens]
Our Common Fishery Policy has had very seriously deleterious effects on fish stocks.
The tragedy of the Commons.
If ‘nobody’ owns them, everyone will take their fair share (and a bit), so leading to diminution of return. Even extinction . . . .
Same people?
Same watermelons.
Greenish outside, but Bright Red inside – by my humble observations.

Green is the new Red.
Privatization of the fisheries is morally wrong.
Why should anyone be deeded rights to the resource?
Why would any one Walmart their fisheries?
Only one answer. Greed.
We call them Catch Shares. Here are a few articles.
Environmental Defense Fund, the Methane Crisis people are behind this lunacy in the US.
Oh yes. The EU has destroyed the UK fisheries using this scheme, while other country’s have used it to steal livelihoods, and award the spoils to the biggest players.


Time to drill some exploratory wells?
The government would never allow it.

we don’t really know natural flows of methane nearly well enough to start making statements about the role of antrhopogenic sources.

Bill Treuren

And when the sea levels were 140M lower during the last ice age did the plumes emit more methane.
In Hawkes Bay New Zealand there are a number of these plumes well know for decades to fisherman as guides to fishing spots.

Just like CO2 is the gas of life, for all green plants on land, the methane dissolved in seawater acts as nutrients or fertilizer in the Ocean. See the figure explaining links in the marine food-Chain, here:


” ‘… it is not likely to be just emitted from the sediments; this appears to be coming from the decomposition of methane that has been frozen for thousands of years,’ yet offer no methodology for how they determined that. I seems to be little more than the opinion of the researcher.”
The methodology the researcher used to come to that opinion seems rather obvious… pulling something out of the arse that fits the GW narative.

Ken Tarpley

Although methane is not the primary discharge out the arse it is a trace gas that one emits.


Care to provide the detailed breakdown of the chemical composition of these posterior emissions, Ken?

Bubble plumes off Washington, Oregon suggest warmer ocean may be releasing frozen methane

Suggest a scare the bubble plumes did. Guessed the bubble plumes have done. Do some scientific casual analysis based on verified observational evidence is what the bubble plumes must try now.

Steamboat McGoo

Strong with the Wind, the bubble plumes are. Out their “sediment”, the bubble plumes are blowing it.


Or maybe it’s whale farts…

Steamboat McGoo on October 14, 2015 at 2:08 pm
– – – – – –
Steamboat McGoo,
The dangerously bubbly side of the force is strong with the bubble plumes.

Based on a very loose paraphrase of a Yoda quote form Star Wars, I offer this,
“Bubbly plume scares are the path to the dark side of the force. Scares leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”


Caligula Jones

…”most of the deep-sea methane seems to get consumed during the journey up. Marine microbes convert the methane into carbon dioxide, producing lower-oxygen”
So CO2 is plant food, and methane is marine microbe food. There will be more of it, so more plants and more microbes. Which would be good for the things that eat plants and microbes.
Sorry, did I miss the downside again?


The real climate change deniers are on the left….they think the climate and world has not changed since man lived in caves !!!


no, they think its all changed for the worse and ALL because man STOPPED living in caves 🙂


They live in palaces and think we should be driven back into the caves..

Caligula Jones

Well, that’s always my question to warmists: what do you think the climate should be? They can start with the “global temperature” if they want. I can use the laughs.
As I tell them, climate change means that the climate is changing BACK to a climate we’ve already had, and already survived and did so when (if not necessarily living in caves), living much harder lives than now.
I get the idea that when they say “climate catastrophe”, they mean “might get back cell reception at the place where their $8 latte is now $8.50”. Horrors.

Geraint Lloyd

In the 90s this was suggested as a possible explanation for the Bermuda Triangle. There are lots of Methane Hydrates on the shelf slope, that show up as strong / Bottom Simulating Reflectors (BSR) on seismic. Since hydrates exist at low temperature / high pressure, removal of overburden (pressure) by regular submarine slides causes reduction of overburden and hydrates destabilise to free gas. At least that was the theory in the literature when I did an assignment / paper on hydrates as a geological oceanography undergrad in 92.
My point really is that this isn’t a “new thing”.
The Bermuda triangle thing was/is plausible, if a bit left field. Here’s a Journo description from 97


To people on the the right , this means ” Drill baby Drill ” , there’s oil down there !!!

Geraint Lloyd

there’s been people looking at it for a while. the soviets may or may not have had a go at the Messoyakha Gas Field in the West Siberian Basin during the 70s and 80s. the trick appears to be to get the hydrate to destabilise in a neat and orderly fashion.

Geraint Lloyd

….. so for my money, the fact that these sediments are on a subduction zone, subject to frequent seismic activity and slope failures / submarine landslides, is a likely cause of hydrate destabilisation. The text mentions that hydrates are sensitive to temperature change (true) but i didn’t see any reference to pressure change (also true), but maybe i read it too quickly


and since the seafloor isn’t experiencing any temperature increase I would ask the researchers “What are you talking about ?”


Doncha know, our instruments, which are sensitive to 0.1C, have detected a warming of 0.001C in the deep oceans.


It’s there because they SAY it is–“reality” is now created by propagandists.


I’m still waiting for some explanation of how greenhouse gasses warm the deep ocean.

DD More

Kaiser – “the seafloor isn’t experiencing any temperature increase”
Don’t be so sure of that.
An undersea volcano has erupted off the coast of Oregon, spewing forth a layer of lava more than 12 feet (4 meters) thick in some places, and opening up deep vents that belch forth a cloudy stew of hot water and microbes from deep inside the Earth. Scientists uncovered evidence of the early April eruption on a routine expedition in late July to the Axial Seamount, an underwater volcano that stands 250 miles (400 kilometers) off the Oregon coast.
The discovery came as a surprise, as researchers attempted to recover instruments they’d left behind to monitor the peak a year earlier. When the researchers hefted a seafaring robotic vehicle overboard to fetch the instruments, the feed from the onboard camera sent back images of an alien seafloor landscape. In addition to producing hardened lakes of blobby lava, in places more than a mile (1.6 km) across, the eruption changed the architecture of the region’s seafloor hot springs.
“There are more vents, they’re higher temperature, and there are microbes living in them that are usually deep in the crust that come up to the surface in these events,” said Bill Chadwick, a geologist with Oregon State University.
The Axial Volcano rises 3,000 feet (900 m) above the seafloor, the most active of a string of volcanoes along the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a plate boundary where the seafloor is slowly pulling apart.
I remember this due because in an earlier report the researchers never got a reading on their sensitive monitor equipment.

Hocus Locus

“Dissociation of Cascadia margin gas hydrates in response to contemporary ocean warming”
~Geophysical Research Letters 2014
“CORRECTION: Dissociation of Cascadia margin gas hydrates in response to precursive fault outgassing leading up to rip-roarin’ ass-kickin’ tsunami-slingin’ beachcomber-drownin’ San Andreas-unzippin’ Cascadia shake’n’quake”
~Geophysical Research Letters 2015? 2016? …
Place your bets!

Geraint Lloyd:

PV =nRT, so pressure, temperature it’s all equivalent, well not really because there is a phase change involved, ΔvapHo is 8.17 kJ/mol, water is 40.66 kJ/mol, so it’s not huge. I know they claim ocean heat has gone up considerable based on the sparce and adjusted ARGOS data, but temperatures have barely budged, so I’d think the pressure side of the equation is more likely.

Joe Public

“Bubble plumes off Washington, Oregon suggest warmer ocean may be releasing frozen methane”
Perhaps they can tell us by how much the ocean has actually warmed. And since when.
Is it greater than 0.023K per decade?


It’s the delicate balance of Nature which only humans can break.


Well said. I’ll be repeating that one in conversation.


and that warming as tiny as it is, is of the surface not the ocean floor …


Since this warm water came from a decades old patch of water in Siberia, a better question is; What caused that Siberian water to get warm in the first place?

Charles Nelson

Has anyone else noticed the way that they’re trying to shift the focus onto METHANE just recently…they’re clearly no longer getting much traction with CO2…a bit like the old Global Warming to Climate Change manoeuvre !


They’ve also been trying to revive the comatose “ocean acidification” meme.

Warren Latham

Exactly !
Smoke, mirrors, distractions, con stories, guessing.
CO2 is bad = Other People’s Money in THEIR bank accounts.
I’m pretty sure that this and many of the other 2015 “reports” from so-called “universities” (and the like) are all part of the UN / IPCC / EPA plan to ramp up the Gravy Train Belief System.

Berényi Péter

The 2014 study calculated that with present ocean warming, such hydrate decomposition could release roughly 0.1 million metric tons of methane per year into the sediments off the Washington coast

Currently we have about 500 million tons of methane in the atmosphere. Adding 0.1 million tons to it annually, while its atmospheric lifetime is 12 years, is equivalent to insist, that contribution of hydrate decomposition at the Washington coast to atmospheric methane level could only be negligible. That’s what this press release is telling us in a rather roundabout way.


It is so depressing to learn that the science that I once believed in as a child has become the ” Monster under the Bed” !!!


Amen, brother!

Furthermore, the solubility of methane in water at depth is more than 0.03 g CH4 per kg of water. 0.1 million tons of methane would totally dissolve in a volume of water 1 km x 1 km x 3 meters. It need not react to oxidize the CH4 to CO2. It will mostly dissolve in sea water.

Bubba Cow

last paragraph –
“Solomon is now analyzing the chemical composition of samples from bubble plumes emitted by sediments along the Washington coast at about 500 meters deep. Results will confirm whether the gas originates from methane hydrates rather than from some other source, such as the passive migration of methane from deeper reservoirs to the seafloor, which causes most of the other bubble plumes on the continental margin”.
Reveals that entire article is pure conjecture and the real work on the observation has not been done. Just what was the point of the conjecture? Well now.

2014 U of W research including ocean temperature measurement and location of methane bubbles reported by fishermen.
map (no scale) showing Axial Seamount and Cascadia methane hydrate location.


I did an observation in the bathtub – any sudden release of bubbles were definitely a sign of noxious gasses and cause for alarm.


So , in other words….You farted while taking a bath !!!!.


I need grant money to study this phenomenon.. it COULD be life saving !!!! Or maybe a marriage !!


Their lives could be in danger, or worse, their marriage.


Marcus, Markie,
Just so your grant applications includes Climate Change, you should get pots of tax-payer cash from the EPA – and – in the UK – whatever they have called the Department for Energy and Climate Change since our Spring election.
Not sure if Cameron still cuddles huskies.
Auto – wishing they did it, without snow-mobiles.
Funny you should mention plumes of toxins off the West Coast, today. Here’s a different kind, much, much deadlier than any little ol’ natural gas….


4 times nothing, is still nothing.
Just because we can measure something down to the parts per trillion, is not evidence that what we are detecting is dangerous.
The radiation you fear isn’t dangerous in Fukushima, much less several thousand miles away.

So since we’ve been warming for ‘many’ years the methane should have started increasing in the atmosphere when this outgassing started. And so the graph of atmospheric methane should show a point where the rate is increasing, right? Because this is relatively new, right?

I feel like we are living in an era similar to the Salem Witch Trials where self appointed “experts” are declaring cause and effect correlations that don’t hold water, but do ruin peoples lives from a never ending increase in government controls. The real witches are the AGW fanatics and their power hungry government bureaucrat enablers.


They think if you give up your pickup truck and your cheeseburger the weather will change; yep, that’s “scientific” thinking all right! 😉


They can pry my cheeseburger out of my cold dead hand!
My New York strip steak, however, I will cling to tenaciously, even in death.
They’d gwine to hafta bury my wit’ dat one!


The similarity is even more remarkable than most people may imagine:
“King James VI of Scotland, who had initially been quite lenient towards witchcraft, experienced terrible storms while sailing to Copenhagen to marry Princess Anne of Denmark, and was forced to take refuge on the coast of Norway for some time. More storms greeted their return journey, and the admiral of the escorting Danish fleet (among others) blamed the storm on witchcraft. These events drastically changed James’ views towards witchcraft” from:
“But very often men and beasts and storehouses are struck by lightning by the power of devils; and the cause of this seems to be more hidden and ambiguous, since it often appears to happen by Divine permission without the co-operation of any witch. However, it has been found that witches have freely confessed that they have done such things, and there are various instances of it, which could be mentioned, in addition to what has already been said. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that, just as easily as they raise hailstorms, so can they cause lightning and storms at sea; and so no doubt at all remains on these points. ” from:

john cook

long time a ago science meant knowledge, now science is about ignorance, the less you know the better scientist you are.


“Methane has contributed to sudden swings in Earth’s climate in the past. It is unknown what role it might contribute to contemporary climate change,”
How can they know the 1st argument and not know the 2nd???

Paul Westhaver

Excellent! It seem you are getting out in front of this “Boogyman” You know Paris is going to parading this all over the news. Any idea of the % of annual methane is from ice methane? Noteworthy, as per previous posts, is the lack of evidence of catastrophic CH4 burps.


I have been the proud uncle tasked with reading a very well regarded niece’s papers as she makes her way to and thru the PhD degree in Ecological Sciences (which ought to alert you to the next comment)… My “job” hasn’t been to read the content for content, but for wording, case, tense, and general grammatical shortcomings. Being a PERL programmer, it has also been easy to unobtrusively figure out just exactly how many words I’ve had to suggest corrections for. About 10%.
To me that seems high.
But no matter.
Content is the key to this comment.
Niece’s papers have roundly been on topics just such as this article’s: purported habitat and environmental changes wrought by anthropogenically mediated global climate change; there are a lot of citations, a lot of measurement, and a surprisingly large amount of second-hand conjecture taken as faith.
Though her university mentors obviously counsel “stay neutral, scientific; resist urge to proselytize or preach”, truth is, she seemingly can’t help it, and gets away with a whole lot of it, unchallenged. Gets As, even.
This article’s reference to ancient, ‘frozen’ methane (which is really methane hydrate, a clathrate metastable material) is typical… attribution of a bubbling stream of rising methane gas to the unseen, unmeasured, un-assayed clathrate as the source is a leap of scientific faith, which without the same measurements and assays is just open conjecture until otherwise proven. Niece’s attribution of forestation rates (she’s at University of Alaska, Anchorage), spectrum and mass of lichens, mosses is similarly attributed to conventional and prevailing theory – but without measuring whether the proposed mechanism is real or fiction.
And of course, each one of her papers ends up being a guarded, monotonic, muted-but-bug-eyed screed warning of the future based on tissue-paper thin evidence that anything at all is actually amiss. The bug-eyed business however is openly clear when one views her hashtag fan groupies pre-publication twitters.
As our Fearless Leader so well states … was anyone looking at the nominal rate of oceanic seabed methane emission with such accuracy as is today common … 50, 75 or 100 years back?
Rhetorical answer: No, of course not. Clathrates-in-the-sea had barely been discovered 50 years ago. Certainly not 100 years ago. So, I’m simply not willing to believe there’s a ‘problem’ yet. Just new data, and more data afforded by the amazing metrology that the late 20th and present centuries have brought forth. (And feel-good grants to afford the hugely carbon-emitting open ocean junkets to measure the same.)

Thin Air

GoatGuy, Thanks. That was an insightful and useful comment.
To see it all happing “up-close” as you have, it must be also discouraging to see your own family sucked into it: the complete break-down of the scientific process in these environmental fields.
What more can we do, those of us who were trained in real science, like physics, chemistry, geology in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s? Are we left only to post comments here and watch the world go crazy?


Keep the faith, brother. Physics had some pretty dark days too. Truth will out.


@ Thin Air,


We should be forgiving, I suppose.
Because they are young. AND they are being simultaneously bamboozled into believing that a “transition” to a carbon free economy would be painless and represent an economic advantage.
For example they are being exposed to widely circulating memes suggesting that Germany now obtains 50% of it’s energy from Solar P.V. or that the fossil fuel industry receives greater subsidy support than renewables.
Although these statements are false and utterly misleading, the people who are sucked into to believing all of this disinformation, do not have the grasp of economics or engineering or politics or sound general science, to extricate themselves from this web of lies.
Hence, a person studying environmental science, sees no harm in spreading the contagion of alarm.
Since they believe that action taken upon such alarm can only serve to benefit the human race, even if their own specific contribution is a little bit “made up”.
In other words, forgive them, for they know not what they do.


From Anthony: “I find this study suspect anyway, because by their own admission, the press release precedes the actual publication of the paper.”
In this particular case, that’s not so big a problem as it might seem. In today’s electronic world, it is common for journals to “e-publish” articles before the new edition comes out. E-published articles have already been through peer review, although typically they haven’t been through formatting and final editing for typos. I see this to be a good thing, as it allows these sorts of papers to be available a month or more sooner than if we had to wait for the entire new journal edition to be compiled and published. After all, the formatting doesn’t effect the legitimacy of the science.
Now if we were talking about research that hadn’t even been through peer review and the press release was already out, it would be a whole different story,

Michael J. Dunn

The University of Washington is my alma mater, but since I came from the College of Engineering, I feel no kinship with the trendy science types. I get the alumni magazine monthly, and it is a tedious showcase for all the politically-correct fads and trends in academic do-gooder-ism. The publication regularly gives voice to the President of the University and constantly emphasizes that the UW is a prominent research institution and is saving the world wholesale. I can only suspect that the publicity appearance of this research in advance of formal publication is consistent with the UW’s interest in hawking its wares in the publicly-funded realm.
On another note, the Pacific Northwest is moderated by the tail end of the Japan Current, which keeps us from being as cold as Labrador. It would be expectable that the Current would have variations in strength, location, and temperature at the far end of its gyre.
And also: According to the theory of plate tectonics (which I don’t necessarily uphold), there is a subduction zone ALL ALONG the Pacific coast. One might imagine that subduction mechanics would stir things up over time. When this sort of thing goes on along the California coast, they are called oil seeps and tar pits. Like someone said, the conclusion that it is methane clathrate shaken from a geological slumber may omit the possibility that it is deep abiogenic gas finding its way to the land of the free.

Tectonics is real. Deep abiogenic methane, not so much. There is some, but not deep below the ocean floor. See details in a comment below.


And also: According to the theory of plate tectonics (which I don’t necessarily uphold), there is a subduction zone ALL ALONG the Pacific coast.

Indeed this comment reinforces one little shy fact. Commenters here have basically only one thing in common: they are interested climate contrarianism. At all other accounts, people have wildly different ideas, let me call some of them even fringe theories.
It is a little bit painful in my opinion, because even the ‘official’ IPCC range of expected warming includes no-danger scenarios. You don’t need fringe theories like the Sun being incapable of warming the CO2 laden atmosphere. It is inescapable though, that people with fringe theories will appear here. It is a little bit sad that all present get the stink.


The UW recently was chosen as the 11th ranked university globally. It has been a huge catalyst for job creation in the Seattle area, in particular in the biotech sector and IT. And in recent years, the expertise of UW faculty in cloud computing has been a major factor in many cloud companies locating in Seattle – not just Microsoft and Amazon.

Gary Meyers

FTA: “… it is not likely to be just emitted from the sediments; this appears to be coming from the decomposition of methane that has been frozen for thousands of years.”
Just what does methane decompose into anyway? Hydrogen and carbon. Since carbon is a solid at these temperatures, the gas bubbling up from the “decomposition of methane” must be hydrogen gas?

Methane seeps occur all over the world on the continental shelves. There are more on the west coast of the US than on the east coast, because the west coast is an active continental margin. But, even on the east coast there are hundreds of them, see here: They are not as common on land, but they exist there as well, especially in swamps, wet lands, oil and gas basins, farms and sewage treatment plants. I’ve seen sonar images of methane coming off of the sea floor that are larger than the one pictured in Indonesia and in the Gulf of Mexico. They are very common and hardly Earth shattering news.


Keith Willshaw

The common name for Methane in England was Marsh Gas which you would think is a pretty big clue. One of the things geologists look for in potential gas fields is a non porous cap rock as otherwise the gas produced will have escaped into the atmosphere. Methane is an entirely natural product of decay and most of it does escape leaving a trail of bubbles behind.


If warmer waters are causing the release of more methane, why isn’t the concentration of methane in the atmosphere increasing?


Well, it is, according to Wikipedia (you can check its source, could be Connolly-based)


“by water that formed decades ago”
I thought most of that water has been around since before the earth was formed?

Rhoda R

Thank you MarkW. I’d noticed that also. I’m glad someone commented on it.


Are you serious?

Anthony-I found this “study” talked about in an article in December 2014-

Gunga Din

OK! Whose been feeding the whales beans?

Sean Peake

Godzilla farts

Proud Skeptic

If I remember my NOAA information correctly, the Earth is believed to have warmed 0.8 degrees since 1920. Apparently the Earth was so close to being “off balance” prior to this that this one little bit of warming, which happened before we got so smart on global climate (and which cannot be reversed by Man) has caused these methane plumes to start, the Antarctic ice shelves to become unstable, and glaciers all over the planet to begin melting.
Seems to me like a few decades of an active Sun could have done the same thing and it would have been natural.
No…I stick to my theory that anything we have done to warm the Earth has just moved forward the inevitable by a few decades. Getting tired of all the hyperventilation and efforts for every climate scientist in the world to attract attention to himself.


does this mean Gaia has flatulence?


Yes, which causes Atlas to shrug . . .

William Astley

There are methane (CH4) seeps all over the ocean floor which supports the assertion that source of hydrocarbons on the earth’s surface is deep core CH4 that is extruded from the core as it solidifies. The super high pressure liquid CH4 that is extruded from the core, is the source of the force that moves the ocean floor underneath the continents and that splits apart the continents.

About 440 seeps originate at water depths that bracket the up dip limit for methane hydrate stability. Contemporary upper-slope seepage there may be triggered by ongoing warming of intermediate waters, but authigenic carbonates observed imply that emissions have continued for more than 1,000 years at some seeps

The oldest section of ocean floor is 200 million years old. A portion of the CH4 is left at the continental edge where the ocean floor is pushed under the continental plate which explains why there are chains of mountains on the edge of the continents.
The deep core source of CH4 explains why there is more carbon in Methane hydrates on the ocean floor than there are liquid hydrocarbon reserves and why the upper ocean is saturated with CH4.

Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern US Atlantic margin
Methane emissions from the sea floor affect methane inputs into the atmosphere1, ocean acidification and de-oxygenation2, 3, the distribution of chemosynthetic communities and energy resources. Global methane flux from seabed cold seeps has only been estimated for continental shelves4, at 8 to 65 Tg CH4 yr−1, yet other parts of marine continental margins are also emitting methane. The US Atlantic margin has not been considered an area of widespread seepage, with only three methane seeps recognized seaward of the shelf break. However, massive upper-slope seepage related to gas hydrate degradation has been predicted for the southern part of this margin5, even though this process has previously only been recognized in the Arctic2, 6, 7. Here we use multibeam water-column backscatter data that cover 94,000 km2 of sea floor to identify about 570 gas plumes at water depths between 50 and 1,700 m between Cape Hatteras and Georges Bank on the northern US Atlantic passive margin.
About 440 seeps originate at water depths that bracket the up dip limit for methane hydrate stability. Contemporary upper-slope seepage there may be triggered by ongoing warming of intermediate waters, but authigenic carbonates observed imply that emissions have continued for more than 1,000 years at some seeps. Extrapolating the upper-slope seep density on this margin to the global passive margin system, we suggest that tens of thousands of seeps could be discoverable.

ferd berple

is deep core CH4 that is extruded from the core as it solidifies
CH4 is continually produced by plate tectonics. limestone (fossilized CO2) is carried along with water into the earth, where it is reduced in the presence of iron, heat and pressure, to form methane. (few people realize that hydrogen is produced by super heated steam contacting iron.) this methane continually percolates up to the surface of the earth to be consumed by microbes, except where it is trapped by rock or ice formations.

James at 48

There is certainly a large amount of CH4 out in the cosmos.

Dodgy Geezer

…had anyone observed methane venting in this area before? While they enlisted the help of fishermen now, would anyone bothered to have documented these bubble plumes 50-100 years ago? I think not…
Was anyone PAID to document these bubble plumes 50-100 years ago? I think not…


Prior to the use of sonar to locate schools of fish, would anyone have even noticed these plumes?

ferd berple

methane is produced naturally within the earth by the reduction of limestone and water by iron all along the “ring of fire” subduction zone. limestone itself is made from CO2 and calcium dissolved in the ocean.
limestone + water + iron + heat + pressure yields methane
the vast deposits of methane on earth were not the by product of rotting dinosaurs. They are the product of recycled CO2 within the earth. Otherwise all the CO2 on earth would have been long ago been bound up as limestone and life on earth would have gone extinct due to the lack of carbon as a basic building block.

FB, it is true that abiogenic methane is produced under unusual geological conditions. Largest quantities known are locked in clathrates (methane hydrate) at the bottom of the Framm Strait, as an indirect chemical consequence of mid-Atlantic tectonic seafloor spreading bringing up iron rich basalts. Certainly, most if not all nonterrestrial methan (Titan, etc) is of abiotic origin.
The vast majority of Earth’s present methane is of biological origin. Most natural gas deposits are thermogenic, the result of photosynthetic marine kerogen ‘cooked’ beyond the oil window. Most clathrates are biogenic, produced in deep seafloor sediments by methanogens ( Archea) decomposing organic matter below the temperature/ pressure clathrate ceiling. Think cold cow farts without the ow. Similar Archea organisms. Essay Ice that Burns provides more details and references.

Curious George

Rud, I value your opinion highly, because usually it does not come from tea leaves. “The vast majority of Earth’s present methane is of biological origin.” Link, please? Is it based on models, or measurements?

Methane clathrates have a magnetic moment; methane obviously doesn’t. I wonder if the U of Washington researchers have checked this out.

CG, only measurements. No models. References in essay Ice that Burns. And the difference between abiogenic, thermogenic, and biogenic methane are determined by carbon isotope ratios. Standard oil and gas geophysics stuff. Abiogenic gas has been indisputably proven for decades, first from burning seeps in Turkey, Greece, and Spain. Framm Strait clayhrates are a quite recent discovery, well worth a google. Abiogenic oil has pretty much been discredited after the $40million Swedish misadventure. Makes no chemical sense from first principles absent sophisticated catalysts being developed by Siluria Technologies. Worth another google. Methane does under geologically feasible temp/pressure conditions with iron catalyst. As observation has shown. Regards.

Steamboat McGoo

I’m really enjoying trying to wrap my brain around your, “Think cold cow farts without the ow.” statement. LOL

Abiogenic oil has pretty much been discredited after the $40million Swedish misadventure.
Rubbish. Biological petroleum (meaning “rock oil,) has been discredited by the laws of thermodynamics:
“The spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons that comprise natural petroleum have been analyzed by chemical thermodynamic-stability theory. The constraints imposed on chemical evolution by the second law of thermodynamics are briefly reviewed, and the effective prohibition of transformation, in the regime of temperatures and pressures characteristic of the near-surface crust of the Earth, of biological molecules into hydrocarbon molecules heavier than methane is recognized.
There is also a logistical problem with the thermodynamically unconstrained fossil fable. Petroleum eating microbes infesting the planet from pole to pole, from the deepest anoxic sediments to the surface, consuming more oil and gas than we do, and have been doing so for eons, even before photosynthesis evolved.
Let me show you….
“Far more natural gas is sequestered on the seafloor—or leaking from it—than can be drilled from all the existing wells on Earth”. -Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2004
“Methane seeping from the seafloor sustains microbes that serve as the base of the food chain for communities of animals, like these tubeworms, which thrive in the sunless depths.”
Microorganisms living in anoxic marine sediments consume more than 80% of the methane produced in the world’s oceans
-Methane-Consuming Archaea Revealed by Directly Coupled Isotopic and Phylogenetic Analysis, Science, July 2001
“Attempts to draft plausible scenarios for the origin of life have in the past mainly built upon palaeogeochemical boundary conditions while, as detailed in a companion article in this issue, frequently neglecting to comply with fundamental thermodynamic laws.
Based on a review of our present understanding of the biochemistry and biophysics of acetogenic, methanogenic and methanotrophic pathways and on a phylogenetic analysis of involved enzymes, we propose that a variant of modern methanotrophy is more likely than traditional WL systems to date back to the origin of life.
(for more convergent evidence, see my web page, “Life from Petroleum”, under my nym)
The frequently-invoked “reducing conditions” required for converting low energy dead stuff into high energy petroleum in the sediments have never been specified by fossil proponents, and are therefore unfalsifiable at this point. In contrast, petroleum has been squeezed from rock and water in the laboratory repeatedly by simulating the pressure and temperatures expected at depths of around 100kms. (using diamond anvil & laser)
Petroleum also has an affinity for (i) natural fractures, (ii) helium, (iii) sulphides, and (iv) diamondoids, none of which can be explained in fossil terms.

FB, CO2 (not methane) is recycled from carbonate rock in subduction zones, then vented back to the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions. Without which life would cease in about 2 million years as marine sequestration (carbonates from coccolithophores and foraminifera) would cause atmospheric levels to fall below 150ppm, at which point plants die from CO2 starvation, causing directly (herbivores) or indirectly (carnivores) the death of everything else from plant starvation.
BTW, Dr. Patrick Moore’s magnificent talk to the GWPF this date is highly recommended reading for all.

The Marum video I posted below shows a map of the subduction zones on the globe, followed by a remotely-operated-vehicle (ROV) tour of the real world seafloor at most of those locations.
If you watch it (stunning footage, well worth a few minutes), you’ll see methane rising from the sediments at subduction zones in the real world, in exactly the way Ferd’s abiotic model of production predicted.
Check it out.

JJM Gommers

Assuming these vents produce methane for a long time, and from Willis article there is no sudden increase in methane the last years, no worry.


last week, I was ashamed that I was breathing out. This week I am ashamed to do a f@rt.
when will these greenies leave me alone ??


I’ve had my 77 Ford F250 with it’s 493 and 750 Holly carb in storage for the past 5 years.
I dug it out this spring, blew out all the bad gas, changed the plugs and passed emmisions with flying colors.
Since gas has been below $4.00/gallon, i’ve been driving it to work every day. I’ve forgotten what horse power plus 6000 lbs of steel can do when the light turns green. so far $50 dollars of premium gas lasts my truck a week from home to work if I stay off the freeway. It’s way more fun than the 4runner which tank lasts for two weeks.


Maybe in the future i’ll convert my truck to natural gas, what a gas that would be.

Gunga Din

Someone notices something. It may have been going on for decades or more but because it wasn’t noted before, it’s suddenly something new.
How long has fishing sonar been in use? How likely is it that these “bubbles” were noticed by fishermen but not reported or even recorded?
It’s good that they are looking for past reports but how can they say or give the strong implication that they fall within the caGW timeline?

Ian H

Where is the evidence that there is any significant warming at all at 500 metres.
This isn’t science, it is a fairy story

Ray Boorman

You nailed it in only 7 words Ian. Trouble is, no-one will give you taxpayers money to produce such insightful essays. The climate-changers have a need for ongoing taxpayer-funded salaries, hence they write alarming fairy stories.

Ray Boorman

I meant 8 words


New math?

I think there are similar plumes off the coast of Japan. The area is known as “the devil’s sea” or “the dragon’s triangle”. But no climatologists seem to be raising a scare about that.
From the Wikipedia page: “Research also explores natural environmental changes, as the cause of such controversial anomalies in the Dragon’s Triangle. One of these explanations is the vast field of methane hydrates present on the bottom of the ocean in the Dragon’s Triangle area. Methane clathrates (methane hydrates gas) will “explode” when it rises above 18 °C (64 °F). These gas eruptions can interrupt buoyancy and can easily sink a ship, leaving no trace of debris.”
Normally, I avoid going to the wiki for my references, but I’ve read the same thing elsewhere and in this case it was the most expedient source.
Not to mention the “ring of fire” volcanoes and subduction zones present on both sides of the Pacific ocean, including the Washington coast.
Is it too much to ask for the people who write these kinds of opinion pieces (I hesitate to call it a “science research” paper, because the author makes a claim with zero proof to support it) to maybe speak with a competent geologist/seismologist before spouting his nonsense?

This UW PR about a not yet published paper is a second slice of the same UW rotten apple. The first appeared Dec 5, 2014 in GRL. The 500 meter deep warming data in that paper is ‘very noisy’ (even according to the PR for that paper). The paper’s speculated mechanism for 500 meter depth warming is physically very implausible. And that mechanism is NOT the weather related ‘blob’, which only extends to a depth of 300 meters. Which means the ‘found’ warming is imaginary, not real.
Plus, a grand total of 14 out of the (IIRC) 168 methane bubble plumes identified were in the clathrate temperature/pressure transition zone, according to the lead post. Mark Twain’s science quip applies here for sure. A better illustration of junk climate science would be hard to find. Paris ho!


Methane had to be frozen for at least 50 years else the effect of manmade CO2 would need to be even less than alarmists claim….. Can’t have that, eh?

William Astley

There are two theories of the origin of water and hydrocarbons on the surface of the earth.
1) The late veneer theory which supposes that – after the big splat at which time a Mars sized object collided with the earth removing most of the early earth’s atmosphere and volatile elements from the mantel – earth’s atmosphere was reformed by a late bombardment of comets. To account for the current enrichment of hydrocarbons on the surface of the planet this theory requires an early atmosphere that is 50 times the current atmosphere pressure.
The current amount of noble gases in the atmosphere does not support the late veneer theory (The amount of noble gases in the atmosphere is a fraction of that found in comets.) This fact is hand waved away with the suggestion that there is an unknown source of comets that differs from current comets.
Another negative for the late veneer theories is the complete lack of any components that form in a high pressure atmosphere in the geological record which indicates there was no high pressure atmosphere.
2) The second theory to explain the fact that the earth is 70% covered with water and there surface region of the mantel is enriched by a factor of hundred with hydrocarbons is the core CH4 source of hydrocarbons. As the core solidifies CH4 is extruded. The super high pressure liquid CH4 pushes through the mantel and is the reason why there is tectonic plate motion and is there reason why the continents float on the mantel.
One observation to support this assertion is the fact that there is large amount of helium in oil fields. The helium is produced from the decay of Uranium and Thorium in the mantel. Helium does and cannot break the mantel to travel to the oil fields.
The source of the oil fields is the super high pressure CH4 which carries with it heavy metals in solution at very high pressure and provides a pathway for the helium to the oil fields.
See Carnegie Institute of Sciences Deep Carbon Workshop presentations and Gold’s book the Deep Earth Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil fuels, if you interested in this subject.

Modern information re-directs attention to the theories of a non-biological, primeval origin. Among this information is the prominence of hydrocarbons—gases, liquids and solids—on many other bodies of the solar system, as well as in interstellar space. Advances in high-pressure thermodynamics have shown that the pressure-temperature regime of the Earth would allow hydrocarbon molecules to be formed and to survive between the surface and a depth of 100 to 300 km. Outgassing from such depth would bring up other gases present in trace amounts in the rocks, thus accounting for the well known association of hydrocarbons with helium. Recent discoveries of the widespread presence of bacterial life at depth point to this as the origin of the biological content of petroleum.
The carbon budget of the crust requires an outgassing process to have been active throughout the geologic record (William: As the C12/C13 ratio remains the same in the geological record with time which indicates there is constant new source of low C13 CH4 entering the biosphere), and information from planets and meteorites, as well as from mantle samples, would suggest that methane rather than CO2 could be the major souce of surface carbon. Isotopic fractionation of methane in its migration through rocks is indicated by numerous observations, providing an alternative to biological processes that have been held responsible for such fractionation. Information from deep boreholes in granitic and volcanic rock of Sweden has given support to the theory of the migration of gas and oil from depth, to the occurrence of isotopic fractionation in migration, to an association with helium, and to the presence of microbiology below 4 km depth.

The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels

From One Green Planet a media company claiming 4M vistors/month:

It’s time to put methane front and center in climate consciousness where it belongs.
“…methane, the gas produced extensively by the livestock industry worldwide, traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide within a 5 year period…it’s within the next 20 years that we desperately need to act to stop climate change before a domino effect is initiated and our imbalanced bio-systems spiral out of livable conditions.”

Putting aside the question of whether imbalanced bio-systems reporting has spiraled out of any semblance of sanity, I wondered what a “domino effect” of climate change might be.
A 2006 research paper by Stephen M. Gardiner titled “A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption,” refers to a generational domino effect, where “climate change” demands intergenerational action, but “noncompliance by the first generation has a domino effect that undermines the collective project” such that it may not be possible to “create appropriate coercive institutions” and “current populations may not be motivated to establish a fully adequate global regime.”
In 2007, “Scientists Foresee Extinction Domino Effect” was the headline on an article warning “climate change is accelerating species extinctions and unraveling the intricate web of life” and that “up to 30 percent of all species on Earth could vanish by 2050 due to unsustainable human activities.”
In 2008, “Domino Effect” was the headline of an Environment Protection Online magazine article in which Thomas Fingar, chair of the National Intelligence Council, told Congress that climate change could lead to destabilized developing countries around the world, causing mass immigration and fostering terrorism. That claim was further expounded on in a 2009 University of South Florida News article “Domino Effect of Climate Change,” advising that “the domino effect of climate change will lead to political instability, armed conflict and national security issues even for better-positioned nations.”
A plethora of precariously-positioned dominoes demand defensive action. Ignore them at your hypothetical peril!
Meanwhile, Willis’s recent “myths” article gives hope for a different domino effect, with common sense initiating a chain reaction of toppled Climatastrophist shibboleths


OOPs !!!!


A disproportionate number of the bubble plumes came from the critical depth for the stability of methane hydrates?
And chocolate bars come from chocolate bar factories! Tell me more about The Identity Theorem!