Methane: Mantle depths to crust


  • Anonymous


A few years ago, Thomas Gold, Cornell's famous astronomer, entered the earth sciences by discovering, so he says, that methane gas is released from deep in the earth's mantle and is now trapped in large reservoirs within the crust. For a number of good reasons the idea has continued to bounce around the geological community for a while. The main attraction is that if Gold is correct, abundant energy sources can be tapped into the next millenium. Unless strong evidence is found to dispute his idea that most methane emissions from the crust are abiogenic, it seems wise to go on testing the concept. In spite of the title in ridicule, ‘Mantle methane—Fool's gold?,’ of a recent article by the Planetary Sciences Unit (PSU) of the University of Cambridge, England (Nature, Nov. 25, 1982), it was determined that the idea of commercially exploitable accumulations of abiogenic methane should be checked out. In the words of the PSU, ‘The possibility that primordial methane still outgases from the Earth, forms commercially exploitable accumulations, and is involved with higher hydrocarbon formation cannot be dismissed out of hand; constructive research and exploitation is necessary.’