Methane Seeping from East Coast Sea Floor

Methane bubbles flow in small streams out of the sediment on an area of seafloor offshore Virginia north of Washington Canyon.  Quill worms, anemones, and patches of microbial mat can be seen in and along the periphery of the seepage area. Photo/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program,2013 ROV Shakedown and Field Trials in the U.S. Atlantic Canyons.
Methane bubbles flow in small streams out of the sediment on an area of seafloor offshore Virginia north of Washington Canyon.  Quill worms, anemones, and patches of microbial mat can be seen in and along the periphery of the seepage area. Photo/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program,2013 ROV Shakedown and Field Trials in the U.S. Atlantic Canyons.

NYTimes.com: Scientists have discovered methane gas bubbling from the seafloor in an unexpected place: off the East Coast of the United States where the continental shelf meets the deeper Atlantic Ocean.

Close-up of methane hydrate observed at a depth of 1,055 meters, near where bubble plumes were detected in previous sonar data. Pressure and cold temperatures create methane hydrate where molecules of natural gas are trapped in an ice-like cage of water molecules. Methane hydrates, a hydrate patch and chemosynthetic communities were seen during this dive, but no active seepage was observed. Seeps were investigated at other locations. Photo/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program/2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition
Close-up of methane hydrate observed at a depth of 1,055 meters, near where bubble plumes were detected in previous sonar data. Pressure and cold temperatures create methane hydrate where molecules of natural gas are trapped in an ice-like cage of water molecules. Methane hydrates, a hydrate patch and chemosynthetic communities were seen during this dive, but no active seepage was observed. Seeps were investigated at other locations. Photo/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program/2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition

The methane is emanating from at least 570 locations, called seeps, from near Cape Hatteras, [North Carolina] to the Georges Bank southeast of Nantucket, [Massachusetts]. While the seepage is widespread, the researchers estimated that the amount of gas was tiny compared with the amount released from all sources each year.

Read about methane seeping from the sea floor off the East Coast.