Direct measurement of decomposition rates of pure, polycrystalline methane hydrate reveals a thermal regime where methane hydrate metastably `preserves' in bulk by as much as 75 K above its nominal equilibrium temperature (193 K at 1 atm). Rapid release of the sample pore pressure at isothermal conditions between 242 and 271 K preserves up to 93% of the hydrate for at least 24 h, reflecting the greatly suppressed rates of dissociation that characterize this regime. Subsequent warming through the H2O ice point then induces rapid and complete dissociation, allowing controlled recovery of the total expected gas yield. This behavior is in marked contrast to that exhibited by methane hydrate at both colder (193-240 K) and warmer (272-290 K) test conditions, where dissociation rates increase monotonically with increasing temperature. Anomalous preservation has potential application for successful retrieval of natural gas hydrate or hydrate-bearing sediments from remote settings, as well as for temporary low-pressure transport and storage of natural gas.
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Anomalous preservation of pure methane hydrate at 1 atm