Abbie Johnson

Unlocking the mystery of methane clathrates — on Earth and on our solar system’s icy moons

Structure of a methane clathrate block found embedded in sediment in the subduction zone off Oregon’s coast. A German research ship found this hydrate roughly 4,000 feet below the ocean’s surface in the top layer of the ocean floor. (Photo Courtesy: Wusel007 via Wikimedia Commons)

Trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are thought to lie in cold storage within Earth’s permafrost and under its oceans. That gas, however, is trapped within cage-like chemical structures called methane clathrates. Scientists are very interested in these structures, because they may have cousins hidden under the surface of the icy moons in the outer solar system.

Friday, April 19, 2019
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