Finding fire and ice: Modeling the probability of methane hydrate deposits on the seafloor

March 25, 2021 11:40 am Published by

Sandia scientists use machine learning to find fuel source, climate-change driver

Methane hydrate, an icelike mate­rial made of compressed natural gas, burns when lit and can be found in some regions of the seafloor and in Arctic permafrost.

Thought to be the world’s largest source of natural gas, methane hydrate is a potential fuel source. If it “melts” and releases meth­ane gas into the atmosphere, it is a potent greenhouse gas. For these reasons, knowing where methane hydrate might be located, and how much is likely there, is important.

A team of researchers from Sandia and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have developed a new system to model the likelihood of finding methane hydrate and methane gas that was tested in a region of seafloor off the coast of North Carolina.

While methane hydrate deposits have been found in a variety of locations, there are significant unknowns in terms of how much methane hydrate exists on the seafloor and where. It is challeng­ing to collect samples from the seafloor to find methane hydrate deposits. This is where Sandia’s computer modeling expertise comes in.

Read the Lab News story or learn more about Sandia’s work in the Arctic.

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