Enhanced lifetime of methane bubble streams
within the deep ocean.

Gregor Rehder,1 Peter W. Brewer, Edward T. Peltzer, and Gernot Friederich
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, California, USA.

1: Now at GEOMAR Research Center, Wischhofstr, 1-3, D-24148 Kiel, Germany. (grehder@geomar.de)

Geophysical Research Letters (2002) 29(15) doi:10.1029/2001GL013966.

Received: 2001 August 23.
Revised: 2002 July 16.
Accepted: 2002 July 26.
Published: 2002 August 7.


We have made direct comparisons of the dissolution and rise rates of methane and argon bubbles experimentally released in the ocean at depths from 440 to 830 m. The bubbles were injected from the ROV Ventana into a box open at the top and the bottom, and imaged by HDTV while in free motion. The vehicle was piloted upwards at the rise rate of the bubbles. Methane and argon show closely similar behavior at depths above the methane hydrate stability field. Below that boundary (~520 m) markedly enhanced methane bubble lifetimes are observed, and are attribute to the formation of a hydrate skin. This effect greatly increases the ease with which methane gas released at depth, either by natural or industrial events, can penetrate the shallow ocean layers.

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© 2002 by the American Geophysical Union.


We thank the crews of R/V Point Lobos and R/V Western Flyer and the ROV technicians and pilots of ROV Ventana and Tiburon for their skillful support during offshore operation. We are indebted to Chris Rodgers-Walz and Kyra Schlining for invaluable and friendly help in the digital and video labs. Comments from Ira Leifer, University of California Santa Barbara, considerably helped to improve this manuscript. This work was supported by a grant to MBARI from the David and Lucile Packard foundation.

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