Gas hydrate and humans



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The potential effects of naturally occurring gas hydrate on humans are not understood with certainty, but enough information has been acquired over the past 30 years to make preliminary assessments possible. Three major issues are gas hydrate as (1) a potential energy resource, (2) a factor in global climate change, and (3) a submarine geohazard. The methane content is estimated to be between 1015 to 1017 m3 at STP and the worldwide distribution in outer continental margins of oceans and in polar regions are significant features of gas hydrate. However, its immediate development as an energy resource is not likely because there are various geological constraints and difficult technological problems that must be solved before economic recovery of methane from hydrate can be achieved. The role of gas hydrate in global climate change is uncertain. For hydrate methane to be an effective greenhouse gas, it must reach the atmosphere. Yet there are many obstacles to the transfer of methane from hydrate to the atmosphere. Rates of gas hydrate dissociation and the integrated rates of release and destruction of the methane in the geo/hydro/atmosphere are not adequately understood. Gas hydrate as a submarine geohazard, however, is of immediate and increasing importance to humans as our industrial society moves to exploit seabed resources at ever-greater depths in the waters of our coastal oceans. Human activities and installations in regions of gas-hydrate occurrence must take into account the presence of gas hydrate and deal with the consequences of its presence.

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Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Gas hydrate and humans
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Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
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