Widespread Methane Leakage from the Seafloor on the Northern US Atlantic Margin

Metadata Updated: March 11, 2021

Methane emissions from the sea floor affect methane inputs into the atmosphere, ocean acidification and de-oxygenation, the distribution of chemosynthetic communities and energy resources. Global methane flux from seabed cold seeps has only been estimated for continental shelves, at 8 to 65 Tg CH4 yr−1, yet other parts of marine continental margins are also emitting methane. The US Atlantic margin has not been considered an area of widespread seepage, with only three methane seeps recognized seaward of the shelf break. However, massive upper-slope seepage related to gas hydrate degradation has been predicted for the southern part of this margin, even though this process has previously only been recognized in the Arctic. Here we use multibeam water-column backscatter data that cover 94,000 km2 of sea floor to identify about 570 gas plumes at water depths between 50 and 1,700 m between Cape Hatteras and Georges Bank on the northern US Atlantic passive margin. About 440 seeps originate at water depths that bracket the updip limit for methane hydrate stability. Contemporary upper-slope seepage there may be triggered by ongoing warming of intermediate waters, but authigenic carbonates observed imply that emissions have continued for more than 1,000 years at some seeps. Extrapolating the upper-slope seep density on this margin to the global passive margin system, we suggest that tens of thousands of seeps could be discoverable.

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

Downloads & Resources


Metadata Created Date March 11, 2021
Metadata Updated Date March 11, 2021
Data Update Frequency irregular

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date March 11, 2021
Metadata Updated Date March 11, 2021
Publisher (Principal Investigator)
Unique Identifier Unknown
Identifier WidespreadMethaneLeakagePublication
Language en-US
Data Last Modified 2014-08-24
Public Access Level public
Data Update Frequency irregular
Bureau Code 006:48
Metadata Context https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema/catalog.jsonld
Schema Version https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema
Catalog Describedby https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema/catalog.json
Old Spatial {"type": "Polygon", "coordinates": -77.0, 32.0, -66.0, 32.0, -66.0, 41.0, -77.0, 41.0, -77.0, 32.0}
Program Code 006:059
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 16bbd51c249f884217a0f88d03fac6b104c376a1
Source Schema Version 1.1
Spatial {"type": "Polygon", "coordinates": -77.0, 32.0, -66.0, 32.0, -66.0, 41.0, -77.0, 41.0, -77.0, 32.0}
Temporal 2011-09-15T00:00:00/2013-06-29T00:00:00

Didn't find what you're looking for? Suggest a dataset here.