How do earthquakes affect the atmosphere?


Quick Answer

A 2013 study theorizes that the seismic activity from earthquakes can release methane gas from the seabed into the atmosphere, although it is most likely that methane dissolves into the surrounding water before reaching that point. This research is based on an underwater quake off the coast of Pakistan in the first half of the 20th century that created a fissure in the seafloor and allowed methane to escape.

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Full Answer

Methane is composed of one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen. It is an abundant compound and is a part of natural gas. Methane's role as a fuel is countered by the difficulty in harvesting, containing and transporting it in a gaseous state. Methane is naturally found under the earth and under the sea floor. Although methane has a negative presence in the atmosphere due to degrading the ozone layer, its levels are held in check by its chemical reaction with hydroxyl radicals. When methane expires, it is usually converted into water and carbon dioxide. The Industrial Revolution and technological progress since are blamed for the meteoric rise in atmospheric methane levels. Methane is believed to be a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide by a factor of 34. The melting of polar ice sheets is theorized to release even more methane into the atmosphere.

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