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No. 25: Jan-Feb 1983

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Gas Hydrates And The Bermuda Triangle

Gas hydrates are stable, solid lattices of water molecules, in which the water molecules are hydrogen-bonded into hollow spheres or oblate spheroids in which gas molecules are enclosed. They are not true compounds, but rather clathrates or inclusion compounds. They often form in huge masses in ocean-bottom sediments and, if disturbed by slumping or some other stimulus, can release immense quantities of gas bubbles. These gases rise to the surface, subdivided en route, and reach the surface as a huge upwelling of frothy, low-density fluid.

A ship cannot float in such low-density fluids. If a large plume rose above the sea's surface, aircraft passing through it would lose engine power. Quoting the final paragraph:

"Intermittent natural gas blowouts from hydrate-associated gas accumulations, therefore, might explain some of the many mysterious disappearances of ships and planes -- particularly in areas where deep-sea sediments contain large amounts of gas in the form of hydrate. This may be the circumstance off the southeast coast of the United States, an area noted for numerous disappearances of ships and aircraft."

(McIver, Richard D.; "Role of Naturally Occurring Gas Hydrates in Sediment Transport," American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Bulletin, 66:789, 1982.)

From Science Frontiers #25, JAN-FEB 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss