Print 47 comment(s) - last by drycrust3.. on Jan 9 at 5:54 AM

Methane-producing bacteria may have leverage nickel from volcanism to flood the atmosphere with methane

Sources: Live Science, AGU Meeting Schedule

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By mcnabney on 12/19/2012 9:58:57 AM , Rating: 4
It is an interesting theory, but has a some serious problems with it.

The most obvious problem is the volatility of methane in the atmosphere. There is a reason that there is almost none of it found in our air - despite all of the flatulence and escaped natural gas. Methane is broken down by the sun in the atmosphere. On average, it lasts 4-5 years before being returned to CO2 and H2O. In order to accumulate dangerous levels of methane - the production would have to be so great that it could destabilize the atmosphere while being actively worked against by the sun (which causes the breakdown)

So my takeaway is that the only way for methane to spike in the atmosphere would be both the massive production (bacterial bloom) due to molecular precursor availability (the nickel from volcanism) AND some form of global nuclear winter which would block out the sun for an extended period time. So we are back to another meteor hit - a likely cause of both the high-nickel eruptions and the lack of sunlight.

Once the dust cleared, the sun would burn the excess methane off - but the damage would have already been done.

/pay attention fundies - this is how science works

By kattanna on 12/19/2012 1:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
well, it is entirely possible there was a large impact

that then helped to cause this

that one two punch would have ejected enough material into the atmosphere to block out the sun.

By geddarkstorm on 12/19/2012 1:32:04 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. The evidence for that dual cataclysm is very strong now, after some recent discoveries supporting the impact part. So far, all mass extinctions can be linked to a meteor strike, even the Younger Dryas. If that will remain the case in the future is an open question. But life is very tenacious and hard to mass extinct, unless you get rid of the Sun, like pelting the Earth with meteors; or a massive drop temperatures that bring on an ice age.

By thecolorblue on 12/20/2012 4:23:57 AM , Rating: 2
the video i linked had nothing whatsoever to do with methane.. i saw the co2 in the article and recalled that TED video (linked) which had to do with high co2 levels causing massive microbial blooms producing H2S (hydrogen sulfide)

you might want to actually watch the video though, it is a very good talk along similar lines to this dailytech article... although granted it is slightly off topic since it deals with H2S and not methane.
as far as decrying the methane theory based on methane instability... I have to point out that your point is completely irrelevant, and for good reason.

The theory put forth in this dailytech article is based on a methane production spike of enormous magnitude... proceeding continually as global CO2 levels drop precipitously. This would not take long. have you considered the size of the oceans in conjunction with them teeming with methane producing bacteria? ...apparently not. An ocean repurposed as a CO2 + H2 sink and a CH4 factory mediated by a group of bacteria undergoing an exponential population explosion would drive CO2 levels through the floor faster than you could (apparently) imagine. that is the theory inquestion.

or are you implying that organisms dependent on CO2 for survival would just postpone their metabolic needs for years/decades until CO2 levels began to creep back up again as methane was converted back to CO2?

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki