Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher Finds Methane Hydrate in Gulf Using New Search Method

03.02.2010
A Baylor University researcher has used a new search method that he adapted for use on the seafloor to find a potentially massive source of hydrocarbon energy called methane hydrate, a frozen form of natural gas, in a portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. John Dunbar, associate professor of geology at Baylor, and his team used an electrical resistivity method to acquire geophysical data at the site, located roughly 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The Baylor researchers were able to provide a detailed map of where the methane hydrate is located and how deep it extends underneath the seafloor.

Located in an area called the Mississippi Canyon, the site is about 3,000-feet-wide, 3,000-feet under water, and has both active and dormant gas vents. Scientists have been researching the site since 2001, but have not been able to ascertain where the hydrate is located nor how much is there until now.

“The conventional search methods have been fairly effective in certain situations, but the resistivity method is a totally different approach,” Dunbar said. “The benefit to the resistivity method is it shows the near-bottom in greater detail, and that is where the methane hydrate is located in this case. This research shows the resistivity method works and is effective.”

Dunbar and his research team injected a direct electrical current into the seafloor to measure the resistivity of the sediment beneath the sea floor. The measurement of resistivity – the ability of a material to resist conduction of electricity – showed the researchers where the methane hydrate is located. To do this, Dunbar and his team dragged a “sled” – a device with a nearly one-kilometer-long towed array – back and forth over the site, injecting the electrical current. Sediment containing methane hydrate within its pores showed higher resistivity, compared to sediment containing salt water. While the measurement of resistivity has been used for some time, the method has seldom been used at deep depths.

The new method showed researchers that the methane hydrate was located only in limited spots, usually occurring along faults under the sea floor. Dunbar said the method also showed the methane hydrate is not as abundant as previously thought at the site.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Dunbar more than $115,000 to continue researching the site. Dunbar and his team will reconfigure the towed array and shorten the length of it to about 1,500 feet. They also will cluster sensors around certain areas on the array, which will give researchers a clearer picture of how deep the methane hydrate extends and will allow them to create a three-dimensional picture of the underwater site.

An ice-like solid, methane hydrate is found beneath the seafloor in many locations across the globe, usually at depths greater than 3,000 feet. The most common place to find gas hydrate mounds in the Gulf of Mexico are along the intersections of faults with the seafloor. According to the U.S Geological Survey, the nation’s methane hydrate deposits are estimated to hold a vast 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. If just one percent of those deposits are commercially produced, it would more than double the country’s natural gas reserves.

For more information, contact Matt Pene, assistant director of media communications at Baylor, at (254) 710-4656.

Matt Pene | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.baylor.edu/pr

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals
22.02.2018 | University of Arizona

nachricht World's first solar fuels reactor for night passes test
21.02.2018 | SolarPACES

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>