Naturally occurring gas hydrates
Boswell, Ray National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Last reviewed:October 2019
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Solid, icelike combinations of water and natural gas. Gas hydrates occur wherever appropriately-sized gases and water are brought together in sufficient quantities under specific conditions of low temperature and moderately high pressure. Prior to the mid-1970s, the existence of gas hydrates in nature was unconfirmed. As the result of a series of scientific and engineering drilling programs, both in the Arctic and on the continental shelves, gas hydrates are now believed to host hydrocarbons, predominantly in the form of methane (CH4), in immense quantities (Fig. 1). The implications of this storehouse of organic carbon for previous concepts of long-term carbon cycling, near-term feedbacks to environmental change, various natural and industrial geohazards, and potential future energy supply, is the subject of accelerating global research. See also: Hydrate; Methane
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