The potentially devastating effects of methane eruptions.
Imagine a sky of flames an earth of blackened incinerated trees and buildings. The earth a barren lifeless char grilled expanse. The stuff of science fiction or so it would seem. And yet just such a scenario may have caused the mass extinction at the end of the Permian Era 251 Million years ago.
Scientists are speculating that the natural gas Methane erupted from the sea bed and quickly rose into the atmosphere where all it needed was just one spark of lightning to ignite. One scientist maintains that such a methane eruption could quiet easily have destroyed 95% of all sea life through it’s toxicity as it dissolved into the sea water and then gone on to destroy 70% of all Land life forms.
Methane is built up in the earth from the breakdown of organic substances. As Methane accumulates in increasingly higher concentrations certain factors arise that cause the methane gas to be released. These factors include earthquakes, volcano’s or even a meteorite impact. The concentrated methane would then have escaped into the surrounding ocean and then on to the atmosphere.
The effect is thought to be similar to the 1986 Carbon dioxide eruption of Lake Nyos in the Cameroon, which created a water and gas fountain of 360 feet high. It also created a tsunami of 72 feet high.
In the Permian Era the Gas explosion would have been much larger with estimates suggesting that energy in the region of 10.000 times the worlds current nuclear arsenal being expended all at once. Ice Cores suggest that their was a spike in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere at the time of the Permian Era’s ending. In a number of locations, super heated glass debris particles have been discovered further suggesting a great conflagration befell the earth at about this time.
Smaller Methane eruptions could account for biblical floods and other ancient climate changes. Today stagnant sea beds continue to accumulate concentrations of organic gases. However even land such as peat stores up methane and it’s storage capacity like that of the ocean beds is also finite and must escape.