Surprise: natural methane seeps created 'lost city' in Greece that isn't

From the University of Athens and East Anglia and the “methane time bomb” department comes this surprising finding that takes all the fun out of snorkeling for a whole bunch of people.

Underwater ‘lost city’ found to be geological formation

The ancient underwater remains of a long lost Greek city were in fact created by a naturally occurring phenomenon -- according to joint research from the University of East Anglia and the University of Athens (Greece). CREDIT University of Athens
The ancient underwater remains of a long lost Greek city were in fact created by a naturally occurring phenomenon — according to joint research from the University of East Anglia and the University of Athens (Greece). CREDIT
University of Athens

The ancient underwater remains of a long lost Greek city were in fact created by a naturally occurring phenomenon – according to joint research from the University of East Anglia (UK) and the University of Athens (Greece).

When underwater divers discovered what looked like paved floors, courtyards and colonnades, they thought they had found the ruins of a long-forgotten civilization that perished when tidal waves hit the shores of the Greek holiday island Zakynthos.

Upper image: doughnut concretion with superficial resemblance to column shaft elements often found in classical ruins in Greece. Bottom: ‘pavement’ (left) and pipe-like concretion (right). Image credit: University of East Anglia.

But new research published June 3rd reveals that the site was created by a natural geological phenomenon that took place in the Pliocene era – up to five million years ago.

Lead author Prof Julian Andrews, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “The site was discovered by snorkelers and first thought to be an ancient city port, lost to the sea. There were what superficially looked like circular column bases, and paved floors. But mysteriously no other signs of life – such as pottery.”

The bizarre discovery, found close to Alikanas Bay, was carefully examined in situ by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of Greece.

Archaeologist Magda Athanasoula and diver Petros Tsampourakis studied the site, together with Prof Michael Stamatakis from the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment at the University of Athens (UoA).

After the preliminary mineralogical and chemical analyses, a scientific research team was formed, composed of UoA and UEA staff.

The research team went on to investigate in detail the mineral content and texture of the underwater formation in minute detail, using microscopy, X-ray and stable isotope techniques.

Prof Andrews said: “We investigated the site, which is between two and five meters under water, and found that it is actually a natural geologically occurring phenomenon.

“The disk and doughnut morphology, which looked a bit like circular column bases, is typical of mineralization at hydrocarbon seeps – seen both in modern seafloor and palaeo settings.

“We found that the linear distribution of these doughnut shaped concretions is likely the result of a sub-surface fault which has not fully ruptured the surface of the sea bed. The fault allowed gases, particularly methane, to escape from depth.

“Microbes in the sediment use the carbon in methane as fuel. Microbe-driven oxidation of the methane then changes the chemistry of the sediment forming a kind of natural cement, known to geologists as concretion.

“In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments.

“These concretions were then exhumed by erosion to be exposed on the seabed today.

“This kind of phenomenon is quite rare in shallow waters. Most similar discoveries tend to be many hundreds and often thousands of meters deep underwater.

“These features are proof of natural methane seeping out of rock from hydrocarbon reservoirs. The same thing happens in the North Sea, and it is also similar to the effects of fracking, when humans essentially speed up or enhance the phenomena.”


‘Exhumed hydrocarbon-seep authigenic carbonates from Zakynthos island (Greece): Concretions not archaeological remains’ is published in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology on June 3, 2016.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
June 5, 2016 5:44 am

We skeptics have to at least consider the possibility that an archeological narrative based on the notion of civilization being only on the order of 10^4 years old would find the consensus of experts in that discipline inclined to reject evidence, no matter how compelling to laymen, that suggested a civilization existed some 10^6 years ago…

Reply to  Pouncer
June 5, 2016 10:52 am

Paleontology, archaeology and genetics all make it absolutely clear that there was no civilisation – i.e organised human city-based society prior to around 10,000 years ago.

Reply to  Prospero
June 5, 2016 12:08 pm

Consider how the archeological community reacted to reports of human coprolites and tools made of obsidian and chert at sites — Paisley Caves — dating back a dozen or more centuries before the earliest “Clovis” peoples arrived in the New World. Most experts in most disciplines are highly reluctant to abandon long-held theories, and will pronounce the wildest of speculations that “account” for the new evidence within the old paradigm rather than develop a new theory.
This is not a bad thing. By the time a community reaches an unforced consensus on an idea that has progressed thru status levels of speculation, conjecture, hypothesis and theory; the idea has been pretty well slotted in among other Great Truths. It should not be easy to pry it back out again. But a misfit idea does, from time to time, get forced into the wrong part of the puzzle, and a community resolved to watch out for that particular kind of problem should be, IMO, consistent in awareness of the problem.

June 5, 2016 5:51 am

Looks like it is the same phenomenon like the UFO crash cite In the Baltic Sea

Alan Robertson
June 5, 2016 6:12 am

Put 2 and 2 together, Greece and drill baby drill.
Wait, the government of Greece would have to get the hell out of the way and not tax the enterprise out of existence before it got started…

June 5, 2016 6:31 am

Mother Nature can be a cool architect. 😉

Reply to  PaulH
June 5, 2016 7:08 am

And a pitiless landlord.

Reply to  CraigAustin
June 5, 2016 2:28 pm

well said

June 5, 2016 6:50 am

Note the unsubstantiated slam at fracking in the article, implying that it causes surface releases of methane. Never documented anywhere to my knowledge despite tens of thousands of fracked wells.

Reply to  GeoNC
June 5, 2016 12:37 pm

You did notice, I presume, that this bloke is from the University of East Anglia? What else would you expect?

Reply to  GeoNC
June 5, 2016 2:02 pm

My thought exactly.

Reply to  GeoNC
June 5, 2016 2:03 pm

My last comment was a reply to GeoNC.

June 5, 2016 7:12 am

These features are proof of natural methane seeping out of rock from hydrocarbon reservoirs. The same thing happens in the North Sea, and it is also similar to the effects of fracking, when humans essentially speed up or enhance the phenomena

Is it not true that fracking is done at such a depth as not to influence the surface with any contaminants?
If methane were seeping from the ground at fracking sites, the greenies would be all over it.

Reply to  RobRoy
June 5, 2016 7:25 am

That sounds a lot like the mandatory “humans are ruining the earth” meme that must accompany any study about methane, CO2, or the environment.

Alan Kendall
Reply to  RobRoy
June 5, 2016 8:46 am

I suggest this is a reference to the process whereby gas escapes through natural micro-fractures from tight source rocks (called primary migration), rather than its later passage through fractures or porous reservoir rocks, with some of the migrating gas ultimately reaching the surface. Primary migration is artificially stimulated during fracking by the creation of man-induced micro-fractures (and larger fractures). There is no implication in the paper that fracking causes gas seeps at the surface.
The whole point of the paper is that the concretions are entirely natural phenomena, and the unfortunate reference to fracking was probably an ill conceived attempt at relevancy, to mention something a general reader might recognise.

Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 5, 2016 11:10 am

A.K. Thanks for the reply, but…
The article is strictly about methane seeps affecting the surface.
To my knowledge, fracking operations purposefully avoid any surface traces.
This irrelevant quote demonstrates a ham-handed attempt to demonize fracking ( Fracking causes methane to enter the atmosphere.)
Alex is correct, IMO

David Smith
Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 5, 2016 3:59 pm

Good to see you over from Bishop Hill!
You’re right: they chucked in the rubbish about fracking to get themselves noticed.

June 5, 2016 7:18 am

Wow, and I had no idea that UEA had ever heard of natural phenomena, much less recognized it.

Alan Kendall
Reply to  gary turner
June 5, 2016 8:52 am

Congratulations, you get the wakamole prize for being the first to gratuitously critique the UEA for its past regardless of the merit and interest of the paper being discussed.

Billy Liar
Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 5, 2016 9:30 am

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”
― Thomas Paine

Reply to  gary turner
June 5, 2016 10:38 am

UEA was helped to see it by UoA…
(Can I get the second place wackamole prize? 🙂

Reply to  gary turner
June 5, 2016 12:04 pm

My first thought: UEA, oh no, what’s wrong with this study?

June 5, 2016 7:23 am

No pottery remains… there’s the tip-off right there. The underwater city off of India in the Bay of Cambray had human remains as well as pottery. I guess that’s one of the traits of homo sapiens, we’re litterbugs.
Several months ago, someone commented here on WUWT that we should call this the Plasticine era, because there will be a distinct layer of plastic in the geologic record. Oh, and all our pottery will be coffee cups with the mysterious religious symbols “World’s Greatest Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Nurse, Engineer, Teacher…” Future archeologists will be puzzled by our pantheism.

Reply to  H.R.
June 5, 2016 8:25 am

yeah, right, just before cities and civilsation collapse we should have the good manners to remove all trace of humanity and return the land to its previous pristine condition. Just like all other animals do. Naturally.

Reply to  H.R.
June 5, 2016 8:32 am

There’s a science fiction story in there somewhere. 🙂

Reply to  Pat Frank
June 5, 2016 11:03 pm

We’ve all been trapped in a SciFi story for the past 20 years.

David Smith
Reply to  H.R.
June 5, 2016 4:01 pm

Nah, they’ll all have “starbucks” written on them.

Reply to  David Smith
June 5, 2016 7:54 pm

Hmmmm… monotheism, eh David? The future archeologists will be scratching their heads over the deity “Starbucks” and wondering why they always find traces of the sacred offering of caffeine inside the libation cups.

Reply to  David Smith
June 5, 2016 7:58 pm

David Smith,
Right. And they will determine we worshipped the Siren Goddess and drank energizing beverages before engaging in our daily labor in tribute to her. 🙂

Reply to  H.R.
June 6, 2016 5:37 am

There are other larger pottery items in great abundance. I use them several times a day. Hint: they are usually connected to water.
Answer: handbasin. What did you think I meant?

June 5, 2016 7:46 am

I don’t know why WUWT should trust anything coming out of the University of East Anglia of all places, anymore, and perhaps you could have a look at 14 more sunken sites all over the world because of the global 125 M (300 ft) sea level rise around 1500 BC and Climate Change which also caused the Bronze Age Collapse and droughts in the Middle East (See Finkelstein’s et al. study on pollen), the desertification of North Africa (which Paziensa Univ. says used to be cattle-grazing land & also featured the Amazons’ huge ‘Lake Tritonis’), plus the drying out of the Indus Valley and other places, the sinking of Kumari kandam, of SE-Asian Sunda Land, of the Pacific Land of Mu, Bimini Rd., and of Yomon culture sites around Taiwan and the Ryukyu islands, Atlit Yam in Palestine, etc.
Check out some more sunken Bronze submergees (like Anapa City sunken megaliths) at
Not just the round 3 stepped center-holed stones of sunken Zakintha ruins, but also Yonaguni they tried to pass off as natural formation. Why?
Submarine archaeology and submerged Bronze Age ruins used to be all the rage in the media before 10 years ago, until they got a note on their desk to cool it, because it proves a recent post-Deluge Ice Age, due to cooling ocean temperatures which stopped its higher evaporation, copious Northern snows, & heavy rains that used to darken and irrigate Egypt (Merneptah stele) and heavily eroded the sphinx and the pyramids.
Check out also the 1500 BC sinking of Dwaraka (dated by pottery) as described by krishna’s friend Arjuna who saw it sinking below the waves in a moment of time, as written in in the (wrongly overdated) Mahabharata, which proves again that ‘Euhemerism’ is indeed a bona-fide method of historical research, as proven by famous Heinrich Schliemann who through it found the city of Troy, Agammemnon’s golden mask, and recently others even found wood most likely from the Trojan Horse itself! (ACADEMIC research!!) Trouble is, Darwinian overdating seems to be the fashion per paradigm, (even Graham Hancock). Also the geological timescale has already been reduced to less than a fraction of one percent of the time, by the stratification experimental research at the hydraulics Dept of Colorado State University under Dr. Guy Berthault et al, who proved that stratification did not take place top-down but rather several strata at a time sideways!, where younger fossils were buried deeper than older ones.
I guess this would throw a cat among the pigeons, or a pigeon among the cats, depending on your worldview?
Kind greetings,
Lu, Taiwan.
[ The University of East Anglia was a participant. University of Athens was the main investigator. I trust them to investigate their own antiquities – Anthony]

Reply to  Lu Taiwan
June 5, 2016 8:39 am

Geological ages are grounded these days on radiodating much more than stratigraphy. Sideways strata, upside down, twisted around, doesn’t matter. Radiodating will tell the tale.
University of East Anglia has Paul Dennis, in any case. He is a thoroughly ethical and first rate scientist.
Given that, one wonders whether he’s had conversations with Phil Jones.

Reply to  Pat Frank
June 5, 2016 8:53 am

University of East Anglia has Paul Dennis, in any case. He is a thoroughly ethical and first rate scientist.

Agreed.comment image
Excerpt from:
Liz Thomson et al 2009
Ice core evidence for significant 100-year regional warming on the Antarctic Peninsula
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L20704, doi:10.1029/2009GL040104,
IIRC it was Dennis who did the dating on this ice core from the base of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Reply to  Pat Frank
June 5, 2016 8:59 am

…..the identification of the geologic “age” of any given sedimentary rock depends solely upon the assemblage of fossils which it contains. The age does not depend on radiometric dating, as is obvious from the fact that the geologic age system had been completely worked out and most major formations dated before radioactivity was even discovered. Neither does the age depend upon the mineralogic or petrologic character of a rock, as is obvious from the fact that rocks of all types of composition, structure, and degree of hardness can be found in any “age”. It does not depend upon vertical position in the local geologic strata, since rocks of any “age” may and do rest horizontally and conformably on rocks of any other age. No, a rock is dated solely by its fossils.
“The only chronometric scale applicable in geologic history for the stratigraphic classification of rocks and for dating geologic events exactly is furnished by the fossils. Owing to the irreversibility of evolution, they offer an unambiguous time-scale for relative age determinations and for world-wide correlation of rocks.”6
Thus, the existence and identification of distinctive geologic ages is based on fossils in the sedimentary rocks. On the other hand, the very existence of fossils in sedimentary rocks is prima facie evidence that each such fossiliferous rock was formed by aqueous catastrophism. The one question, therefore, is whether the rocks were formed by a great multiplicity of local catastrophes scattered through many ages, or by a great complex of local catastrophes all conjoined contemporaneously in one single age, terminated by the cataclysm.

Reply to  Lu Taiwan
June 5, 2016 9:48 am

Not all rock formations that appear to be sunken cities are in fact sunken cities. The rock formation found at Alikanas Bay in Greece does not appear to be a sunken city. Some other rock formations have been mistakenly identified as sunken cities. However, there are quite a number of REAL sunken cities some of which you mention. The way to easily distinguish for certain between sunken cities and rock formations is to look for the presence of discarded garbage of the ancients like broken pottery, broken tools at the ancient city. Also, look for statues and rock that has carving and writing on it or for statues, ancient walls and etc. Nature is capable of creating what seems to be cobbled roads, pillars and even rocks that are roughly rectangular and seem to be arranged in a pattern. Those later are not proof of anything.

Reply to  BobG
June 5, 2016 10:07 am

A pillared public square, facility, or temple, would not necessarily feature pottery. Pottery is not the all-in-all indication of a man-made ruin. Pottery can be an indication of a house, village, etc., as pottery was found in submerged Dwaraka dating to 1500 BC, an obvious indication of the end of a RECENT unique post Deluge Ice Age.
Tides, tsunamis, strong currents will wipe out and away any debris or ancient garbage. Check the Baltic megalith. Garbage or pottery is not expected to be found in such a formation. It was neither found in Yonaguni, which is also NOT a natural formation, as some like to label it.
I guess theories are dependent on the paradigm behind the eye of the beholder of the evidence. Yet megaliths under water are Bronze Age, just as much as the ones above water, and that should give a hint of when they were submerged. Recently! WHich compels a recent Ice Age. Definitely not 12-15000 BP or longer.

Reply to  Lu Taiwan
June 5, 2016 12:28 pm

Lu Taiwan, if the radiometric ages had contradicted the prior stratigraphic ages, the stratigraphic ages would have been falsified and abandoned.
The reason is that radiometry is objectively determined by the external half-lives of the radionuclides. There is no subjective content in radiometric ages.
The fact that the ages determined by strata and fossil assemblages were largely confirmed by radiometric ages merely meant that the stratigraphic ages were correct and so could be retained.
The Institute of Creation Research is not a reliable source of information. For example, the ICR site claiming unreliable radiometric decay rates, misrepresents its only external reference.
That reference says that radon radiation varies with a solar influence. The ICR implies that the paper supports the idea that radon decay half-life varies. But the paper itself makes it clear that the issue is solar driven radon out-gassing, not half-life.
That kind of dishonest misrepresentation is typical of creationist sites, and of the ICR in particular. You shouldn’t trust them.

Reply to  Pat Frank
June 5, 2016 3:33 pm

Lu Taiwan. you do know the Mediterranean is landlocked* and has little in the way of currents and almost no tide at all?
* Mediterranean=landlocked, in Latin

June 5, 2016 8:31 am

a long-forgotten civilization that perished when tidal waves hit the shores of the Greek holiday island Zakynthos

This is interesting. I recall reading some story about a mediterranean island that supposedly got wiped out by a tidal wave of improbable proportions. It all sounded like typical archaeologists’ fantasising: find a long, round stone, declare a ‘fertility’ symbol and then claim to have discovered a whole civilisation.
Just one of those stories that does not ring true and sounds like rediculous extrapolation from very limited data. You know the one.

Reply to  climategrog
June 5, 2016 10:44 am

>> Got wiped out by a tidal wave.
That would be the island of Thera-Santorini, which was sitting on top of a very large volcanic magma chamber, and was populated by perhaps the most advanced civilisation in the Mediterranean. But after the magma chamber vented itself in 1580 BC, in a series of great eruptions, the island collapsed into the resulting cavity. So the great civilisation was swallowed up by the sea, Atlantis style,** causing a massive tidal wave to spread out acoss the Mediterranean.
This great tidal wave that spread across the eastern Med is likely to be the biblical parting of the waters fable. Especially as Moses said he scattered ashes from a hearth into the sky, and it became a light dusting of ash over all of Egypt. A better description of the long-range fallout of ash from the Thera eruption would be hard to find, especially as this is is a 3,700 year-old report. And the resulting pumice from this eruption, which was 60 meters thick and light enough to float, is likely to be the origin of the Greek myths of the floating islands of Aeolia and Delos. There is often a core of history in any mythology.

Reply to  ralfellis
June 6, 2016 5:45 am

“Moses said he scatted ashes from a hearth into the sky”??? Reference, please. “Exodus to Arthur” argues for the Exodus=Thera eruption link; I found it persuasive.

June 5, 2016 8:48 am

I hope U. Athens did not give them any of their data. I will probably get lost / destroyed or they’d refuse to accept that they ever had it should anyone ask for it back.
Remember [ poor ] Phil Jones got reinstated as director without any penaly or repremand, once the dust had settled. No reason to think he would act differently now, having got off Scott free last time.

June 5, 2016 8:58 am

The island would be Crete, home of the Minoans, with an advanced culture and society for the day. A huge volcanic explosion and subsequent tsunami on the island of Threa devastated Crete and the Minoans with it. This happened about 1500 BC, and many details are still to be worked out and settled.

June 5, 2016 9:34 am

““These features are proof of natural methane seeping out of rock from hydrocarbon reservoirs. The same thing happens in the North Sea, and it is also similar to the effects of fracking, when humans essentially speed up or enhance the phenomena.”
The last comment about “fracking” was out of context. Fracking is the process of inducing fractures in the rock to allow hydrocarbons to more easily flow from the rock pores into a wellbore so that they can be produced.
““In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments.”
Dolomite is not that unusual – in that it compromises about 2% of the rock in the earth’s crust. Also, dolomite forms when limestone is chemically altered. “Dolomite originates in the same sedimentary environments as limestone – warm, shallow, marine environments where calcium carbonate mud accumulates in the form of shell debris, fecal material, coral fragments, and carbonate precipitates. Dolomite is thought to form when the calcite (CaCO3) in carbonate mud or limestone is modified by magnesium-rich groundwater. The available magnesium facilitates the conversion of calcite into dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2). This chemical change is known as “dolomitization.” Dolomitization can completely alter a limestone into a dolomite, or it can partially alter the rock to form a “dolomitic limestone.”

Reply to  BobG
June 5, 2016 11:12 pm


Jerry Henson
June 5, 2016 11:33 am

Natural gas, not just methane, seeps up all around the world. If you have rich upland
topsoil, you will find natural gas.
The reason that the gas is most often discribed as methane is that the instrument
used to test for gas tests only for flamable gas thich is then assumed to be methane.
A much more sophisticated analysis is required, such as a gas chromatograph, to
detect the other componets of natural gas.

Aarne H
Reply to  Jerry Henson
June 5, 2016 12:20 pm

Geochemical companies routinely test for C1->C20, in addition to numerous other gasses that can be found in Natural gas. Methane is the most common by far. Biogenic gas created by the decomposition of organic material in swamps, marshes and landfills are mostly Methane.

Gary Pearse
June 5, 2016 11:56 am

“…The same thing happens in the North Sea, and it is also similar to the effects of fracking, when humans essentially speed up or enhance the phenomena.”
Oh Lord, if this was UEA’s comment, then their effort to recover their reputation took a hit by it. This post normal science is a disease. What on earth makes a prof from the UEA department of environment a specialist in hydraulic fracturing engineering? A clever school boy could tell the department that production of gas actually reduces the pressure in the formation which would reduce leaks.
Also, this off the cuff incompetent statement tells me that the good prof of the department for assuring we no longer have civilizations to leave records of, is unaware that all the horrible problems with fracking only began to happen after the greens discovered there was such a thing as fracking and fossil fuels weren’t, in fact, a twilight resource. Even Wiki has it that fracturing came from a patent in 1865 by a retired Civil War vet for water well enhancement. Fracturing for oil and gas began right at the beginning of the industry, except they used, first gun powder explosives and latterly nitroglycerin for fracking – it was called torpedoing a well. This was done for most of the world’s oil and gas wells right up through the 1960s around the world. People just didn’t know it!! Fracking using safer, more controlled hydraulic methods began in 1947. They began serious development of hydrocarbon shales in Texas during the 1980s and, with the advent of horizontal drilling in the new millennium, perfected hydraulic fracturing. The major successes occurred in the past 6 or 7 years with the rapid expansion of oil and gas output. This woke the greens up to this heritage enhancement of wells. The ‘problems’ were really that there was an oil and gas boom when the greens thought they had everybody on the ropes.

Alan Kendall
Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 5, 2016 7:49 pm

You are perhaps confusing the production of gas by human action from a conventional gas reservoir rock, from the formation (= production) of gas within a relatively impermeable organic source rock. You are correct when you conclude that gas production from a conventional gasfield reduces pressure. Unfortunately for your argument this does not apply where the gas is being generated. Because the hydrocarbons generated occupy more volume than their precursor kerogen, pressures are indeed greatly increased as the hydrocarbons form, commonly to the point where internal pressures microfracture the source rock and the hydrocarbons are freed to migrate out of the source rock to begin their ascent through more porous and permeable rocks. In other words, this process of primary migration involves natural fracking. Some natural gas, formed in this manner does reach the surface. Such natural gas seeps were used by oil prospectors as strong indications of possible leaking oilfields in the vicinity.
The lead author (from UEA) was therefore entirely correct when he made an analogy with man-induced fracking because the two processes are, in reality, similar. He was, given the sensitivities that surround hydrofracking, perhaps unwise to do so.
The lead author had absolutely nothing to do with Climategate or with CRU.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 6, 2016 9:51 am

Yes there is kerogen shales but the massive “oil shales” being exploited contain actual oil and gas. Because of recently held beliefs, these are almost always confused. Kerogen requires actual destructive distillation, whereas the ones about which there has been much surprise and angst by some, just requires fracturing to increase the permeability. Actual pressures used in fracturing are about 80% of the lithostatic pressure at the depth of the shale (barring tectonically caused ‘overpressure’. This pressure is more than adequate to hold back the flow of gas and oil since drilling it has put it into the hydrostatic regime (much lower pressure).
Before the hydrocarbons flow, the borehole casing has been thoroughly cemented in and a smaller diameter production casing advanced all the way to the toe of the hole and cemented in. Starting at the toe-end, the casings and cement are perforated and a small hole (or holes) at each fracking location (stage – often two or more perforations in different directions) are punched with a perforating gun as the apparatus is backed out along the casings. The fracking is done by sealing each stage in turn (backing out) to direct the pressure at each individual stage. The pressure creates a ‘plume’ of tiny fractures, generally less than a millimetre wide and when the pressure is released, sand in the frac water serves to prop open the fractures and flow of hydrocarbons ensues. This is all that is needed to get the hydrocarbons flowing – this is not kerogen or wax. It is oil and gas. Conventional reservoirs have a ‘conductivity’ from 100 to 10,000 millidarcies (md – a measure of ease of flow), tight sandstones 1 to 10 md and hydrocarbon shales below 1md and commonly below 0.1md. The fracturing is merely to increase ‘conductivity’.
The lead author is indeed incorrect. He is out of date and should not be pronouncing as an authority on fracking. Actually (I’ve got to watch that I don’t allow my standards to slip!), as a scientist, he should not be pronouncing on specialties outside his expertise.

chris moffatt
June 5, 2016 11:57 am

Lead author Prof Julian Andrews, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences:
“In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments.
From the entry for Dolomite in
“Although dolomite does not form on the surface of the earth at the present time, massive layers of dolomite can be found in ancient rocks. Dolomite is one of the few sedimentary rocks that undergoes a significant mineralogical change after it is deposited. Dolomite rocks are originally deposited as calcite/aragonite-rich limestone, but during a process called diagenesis, the calcite and/or aragonite is transformed into dolomite. Magnesium-rich ground water containing a significant amount of salt is thought to be essential to dolomite formation. Thus, warm, tropical marine environments are considered the best sources of dolomite formation”.
Perhaps UEA’s school of environmental sciences could benefit from the addition of a few geologists to its staff

Gary Pearse
Reply to  chris moffatt
June 5, 2016 12:53 pm

“In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments..”
So “Antiquities” UEA and Athens are unaware that Ancient Greek ruins are made from dolomite CaMgCarbonate! It is the reason why the much older Greek ruins are in a far superior condition to the younger Rome which is made out of Ca-Carbonate. Pure dolomite has 1/26th the solubility in acids (carbonic from rain) than calcite. The southern Half of Manitoba is also made out of Dolomite!! I used to own a dolomitic marble quarry in Ontario and it was one of my adverts.

Alan Kendall
Reply to  chris moffatt
June 5, 2016 8:10 pm

The lead author is a geologist and there is a long established and thriving group of geologists within the School. He also is correct when he suggests the dolomite is unusual. Most carbonates precipitated in association with methane seeps are composed of the calcium carbonate calcite. Dolomite of this type is more commonly formed at higher temperatures (at depth). This occurrence is clearly of shallow burial origin, and therefore is unusual.
Might I suggest that elementary text information gathered from the web is insufficient to challange the statements coming from a competent and published authority, even if you disrespect the university where he is employed?

chris moffatt
Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 6, 2016 7:45 am

Dolomite is so rare that there is an entire mountain chain made of the stuff in northern Italy. You should go take a look sometime – it’s quite impressive. I first learned about it in geology 451.

Alan Kendall
Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 6, 2016 8:16 am

I don’t believe anyone has claimed that dolomite is rare, far from it. Both the mineral and the mountain chain were named after de Dolomieu who first identified dolomite as a rock. Ancient dolomites are extremely common, but very young or modern dolomites are extremely rare and it wasn’t until the 1960s that modern dolomite was found in coastal salt pans along the Persian Gulf and in salt flats surrounding salt lakes (and even here the dolomite found differed in subtle ways from that in ancient rocks).. Furthermore attempts to synthesize dolomite in the laboratory in reasonable temperature conditions have been unsuccessful. Thus was recognized the “dolomite question” : how to explain the abundance of dolomite in ancient rocks and its extreme rarity from the Recent. For many, this problem remains not fully explained.
The Greek occurrence, as I mentioned previously, is indeed unusal, formed as it was in a shallow environment, associated with seeping methane.

Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 6, 2016 9:08 am

“In this case the cement was an unusual mineral called dolomite which rarely forms in seawater, but can be quite common in microbe-rich sediments.”
He says dolomite “rarely” forms in seawater, but then says it can be quite common in microbe rich sediments? The most microbe rich sediments are in the oceans…where the seawater is. As far as the depth goes, supposedly these things were formed 5 million years ago…is it possible professor that the water was much DEEPER there 5 million years ago when they formed?
His problem may not be scientific, but in communication. In another article after the quote above, it continues:
Though the round disks off the coast were created by leaks in the earth’s surface, that doesn’t mean they aren’t unusual, as such phenomena is usually found in deeper water, according to Andrews, “But having said that, very early seep examples were found in the North Sea – which isn’t particularly deep – but it is a little unusual that it’s right on the coast.”
So, the only “rare” or “unusual” thing is NOT dolomite forming in seawater. It’s that these formations were so close to the coast. But he clarified that there ARE other seep examples of it, they do occur in not particularly deep waters, and it is just a “little” unusual that these are right on the coast.
He may indeed be a brilliant geologist, but these articles don’t paint him in that light.

June 5, 2016 2:04 pm

Next they’ll be trying to make us believe the pyramids weren’t built by aliens.

June 5, 2016 7:31 pm

a general rule of research states that it is surprising how often one finds things that support’s one’s original idea or theory.

Alan Kendall
Reply to  thingodonta
June 5, 2016 8:32 pm

Quite right, it is a common handicap that scientists face and good ones try to overcome. Equally though, unwanted evidence, that does not support a theory is commonly dismissed or ignored.
In shallow waters off the Bahamas there are outcropping rock strata cut by two sets of joints almost exactly at right angles to each other. Natural removal of blocks defined by the joints has produced something that looks for all the world like a ruin or a quarry. I have snorkled over them and can testify to their appearance of human activity. Naturally it has been claimed by some amateur archaeologists as a lost city. Despite repeated investigations by geologists who universally claim its natural origin, the dream of a lost and drowned ancient city in North America just won’t go away.

Reply to  thingodonta
June 5, 2016 11:17 pm

My research has always found that to be the case.

charles nelson
June 6, 2016 1:39 am

I have stood on the edge of a 400 foot cliff, looking down a clearly visible at the outline of buildings and streets submerged beneath the sparkling blue waters below. Behind me were the ancient remains of the other half of the same city. The location was Turkey. As I recall a large white yacht floating above the sunken ruins was playing a Beethoven symphony on its sound system.
You can keep your ersatz ‘methane’ ruins…there’s plenty of the real thing.

Alan Kendall
Reply to  charles nelson
June 6, 2016 3:31 am

Interesting. If what you saw was indeed a drowned part of a city, then the two halves of the city must have occupied essentially the same relative positions as they do now, separated by the 400foot cliff. There is no way the cliff could have retreated, without completely destroying the now drowned parts of the city.
There is a fallacy, commonly claimed about lost villages still being preserved off the coast of eastern England (even to claims that, during storms, church bells can be heard beneath the waves – something to attract tourists perhaps). Utter rubbish. The villages originally sat atop cliffs (composed of easily erodable materials), whose retreat would have caused everything in the villages to be completely destroyed. Anything surviving (loose bricks, bells) would have been strewn over the newly formed sea bed.

Reply to  Alan Kendall
June 6, 2016 9:31 am

It’s called an earthquake. Half of the city of Apollonia Turkey slid into the ocean. There was obviously destruction, but many walls, streets, and foundational structures remained in tact enough to be recognizable.
Then there is the city in the Bay of Cambay India. And others:
It happens. That is just fact. The OP article just shows nature can also build interesting things.

June 6, 2016 5:04 am

Oops, deja vu all over again,
natural phenomenon mistaken
for mann-made. Doesn’t do
to jump to conclusions
rich and passing strange.
Conjecture and refutation,
the scientific method, constrains
the natural human tendency to tea
leaf or chicken entrail mythology.

Gary Pearse
June 6, 2016 11:33 am

Alan Kendall
June 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm
“The lead author is a geologist and there is a long established and thriving group of geologists within the School.”
Alan, you seem like a nice sensible sort, but I suspect you either haven’t been steeped in modern post normal science as an aberration, or you are young enough to not know there was any other kind. I wish this statement and others about competent published authors would bring us more of the comfort it used to bring. I sense you’ve had a bewildering++ shock that people on this site, particularly technical and scientific types, would behave in such an ill mannered way toward such icons of society. Suffice it to say, we have been much tried and maligned over the last couple of decades but the subject is too large to educate you on this at this time. It may be enough that you are visiting this site for you to eventually understand why we seem a bit jaded and outraged.
You probably missed my post several above here about Greek ruins being made of this “rare” dolomite marble and antiquities professors and geologists investigating possible archeological sites appear not to know this.
It might have made them think twice about the significance of finding a “rare” dolomite ‘concretion’ where it shouldn’t be, remarkably shaped like a column base or capital which are also made out of dolomite in Greek ancient buildings. Occams razor and all that! At the bare minimum, a scholar would make mention of the dolomite of the structures. And, also, hand waved over a very paved looking feature. One commenter above said that close to shore, a good storm surge or rip tide might very well have swept the bits of pottery of the floor very nicely. Indeed, it might be something an experienced antiquities type would expect to happen in shallow water over the course of several thousand years or so, don’t you think?

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 6, 2016 1:02 pm

Alan seems to like to appeal to authority. He most likely believes that someone is only declared a “professor” of something if that person is highly accurate, wildly intelligent, deeply experienced, and completely ethical and trustworthy. On the opposing side, anyone who is NOT a professor of that thing, is most likely highly inaccurate, mildly stupid, completely inexperienced, and lacks both ethics and trustworthiness. Thus, hearing non-professorial people declaring that the good professor might be mistaken as to the words he actually spoke, (his actual credibility and/or knowledge unknown at the moment) backing up their counterclaims with their own experiences and factual references, and debating the topic as if they are informed, intelligent, and rational people might be a very new experience for him.
That said, I don’t care if it’s a recently discovered city or where mother earth finds relief from horrible constipation, I can easily think of quite a few obvious, and extremely logical possibilities for a “lack of pottery” if it was an actual city in the distant past:
1-The city was slowly overtaken by the seas, thus it’s inhabitants and their pottery relocated elsewhere before those structures were submerged.
2.Since the article speaks about even the “found” items having been “eroded” into view, it’s entirely possible that there actually are smaller pottery fragments buried under the silt and not yet visible.
3.Invading army loathed the inherent community and smashed every remaining piece of unholy pottery to smithereens.
4.Remaining pottery pieces were valuable and invading army took them
5.Being so close to the shore, anything “fragile” was bashed to pieces centuries ago by tides.
6. As someone above mentioned-if this is/was a city, depending on the era…the part just discovered might be a town square or courtyard or home of a regal person, most likely the daily ware was made of precious metals rather than “pottery”. That close to the shore, it was most likely NOT the home or living area of the common folk who would use pottery-but either wealthy/metal owning people or shipping/trade’s people who were more tool oriented than earthenware etc.
The idea that in order to be a sunken city it MUST/Should/Would show all the signs of “daily life”, because a city would only sink beneath the waves suddenly and catastrophically entombing every living thing and item exactly in their normal and expected places is definitely not logical. Neither is saying that dolomite rarely forms in seawater. Duh. 🙂

%d bloggers like this: