Friday, April 10, 2015

North Siberian Arctic Permafrost Methane Eruption Vents

Mantle Methane Leakage via Late Permian Deep Penetrating Fault and Shear Fracture Systems Rejuvenated by Carbon Dioxide and Methane Induced Global Warming

By Malcolm P.R. Light, Harold H. Hensel and Sam Carana


In North Siberia some 30 permafrost methane eruption vents occur along the trend of the inner (continental side) third of the Late Permian Taimyr Volcanic Arc where the crust and mantle were the weakest and the most fractured. Deep penetrating faults and shear systems allowed molten basaltic magmas charged with large volumes of carbon dioxide and methane free access to the surface where they formed giant pyroclastic eruptions. The large volume of carbon dioxide and methane added to the atmosphere by this Late Permian volcanic activity led to a massive atmospheric temperature pulse that caused a major worldwide extinction event (Wignall, 2009). These deep penetrating fractures form a major migration conduit system for the presently erupting methane vents in the North Siberian permafrost and the submarine Enrico PV Anomaly. During periods of lower atmospheric carbon dioxide and lower temperatures, the permafrost methane vents became sealed by the formation of methane hydrate (clathrate) plugs forming pingos. The surface methane clathrate plugs are now being destabilized by human pollution induced global warming and the mantle methane released into the atmosphere at the permafrost methane explosion vents. This has opened a giant, long standing (Permian to Recent) geopressured, mantle methane pressure-release safety valve. There is now no fast way to reseal this system because it will require extremely quick cooling of the atmosphere and the Arctic Ocean. The situation calls for comprehensive and effective action, including breaking down the methane in the water before it gets into the atmosphere using methane devouring symbiotic bacteria (Glass et al. 2013) and simultaneously breaking down the existing atmospheric methane using radio-laser systems which can also form methane consuming hydroxyl molecules (Alamo and Lucy Projects, Light and Carana, 2012, 2013).

Permafrost Methane Eruption Vents

During 2014 and 2015 at least 30 methane eruption vents, 7 of which are very large were identified in northern Siberia in the permafrost (Figures 1 to 3)(Zulinova in Liesowska 2015, Wales, 2015, Wignall 2009, Light 2014, Scribbler R., 2015). Of the seven major methane eruption vents (craters) in the Arctic area, 5 are on the Yamal Peninsula, one is in the Yamal Autonomous District and the seventh near Krasnoyarsk close to the Taimyr Peninsula (Figure 3, Liesowska, 2015). This permafrost methane eruption vent zone correlates with the inner third of the continental side of the Late Permian Age Taimyr Volcanic Arc where the top of the underlying Permian subduction zone lay at a depth between 200 km and 225 km (Figure 3, Light 2014). These methane eruption vents occur along fracture systems, transform faults, strike slip-slip faults oblique to the subduction direction and normal fault lines that also cut the Permian volcanic arc and the permafrost up to the continental edge of the arc (Figure 3).

Late Permian Extinction Event

In the Late Permian a massive eruption phase occured along the entire central and north eastern part of the "Taimyr Volcanic Arc" producing an extremely wide and thick sheet-like succession of flood trap lavas and tuffs (Siberian Traps Large Igneous Province) that spread south eastwards over the Siberian Craton (Figure 2, Light 2014). During the Late Permian there was a major global extinction event which resulted in a large loss of species caused by catastrophic methane eruptions from destabilization of subsea methane hydrates in the Paleo-Arctic (Figures 2, 3 and 4)(Wignall 2009, Light 2014, Scribbler 2015, Merali 2004, Goho 2004, Scott et al, PNAS, Dawson 1967, Kennedy and Kennedy, 1976). Extreme global warming was caused when vast volumes of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere from the widespread eruption of volcanics in northern Siberia (Figure 2; Wignall 2009) whose main source zone, the "Taimyr Volcanic Arc" on land in northern Siberia (Figure 3) is not a great distance from the present trend of the Arctic Ocean Gakkel Ridge and the Enrico Pv Anomaly extreme methane emission zone. Because the Arctic forms a graveyard for subducted plates, the mantle there is highly fractured and it is also a primary source zone for mantle methane formed from the reduction of oceanic carbonates by water in the presence of iron (II) oxides buried to depths of 100 km to 300 km in the Asthenosphere and at temperatures above 1200°C (Figure 4)(Gaina et al. 2013; Goho 2004; Merali 2004; Light 2014).

In addition to the widespread eruption of volcanics in Northern Siberia in the Late Permian (250 million years ago), swarms of pyroclastic kimberlites also erupted between 245 and 228 million years ago along a NNE trending shear system in the mantle which extends up the east flank of the Lena River delta and intersects the Gakkel Ridge slow spreading ridge on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (Figure 4). Cenozoic volcanics also occur to the north and north east of the Lena River delta marking the trend of the slow spreading Gakkel Ridge on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (Sekretov 1998). All this pyroclastic activity along the slow spreading Gakkel Ridge from the Late Permian to the present is evidence of deep pervasive vertical mantle fracturing and shearing which has formed conduits for the release of carbon dioxide and deeply sourced mantle methane out of Siberia and the Arctic sea floor into the atmosphere (Light 2014).

Thermodynamic Conditions Necessary to form Mantle Methane

On a vertical temperature - pressure/ depth cross section (Figure 4) the surface methane eruption vents are fed from vertical crustal and mantle fractures from more deeply sourced mantle methane below 225 km depth that has migrated up the fractured and sheared surface of the Late Permian subducting oceanic plate and then entered the vertical fractures allowing it to the surface where the methane is now erupting along the inner (continental side) third of the "Taimyr Volcanic Arc" (Dawson, 1967, Kennedy and Kennedy 1976. Merali 2004, Goho 2004, Scott et al, PNAS, Light 2014). What is remarkable is that the present surface methane eruption vent region corresponds exactly to the zone where the crust and mantle was the weakest in the Late Permian because the continental rock melt line (dry solidus) rises steeply to within a few km of the surface peaking exactly in the centre of zone defined by the methane eruption vents (Figure 4).

This implies that in the Late Permian, the inner continental side of the volcanic arc was a region of intense pyroclastic volcanic activity because the lavas were highly charged in carbon dioxide and methane. The eruption of these gases led to massive peak in global warming that culminated in the Major Late Permian Extinction Event when mean global atmospheric temperatures exceeded 26.6°C (Wignall. 2009).

This inner (continental side) third of the "Taimyr Volcanic Arc" was thus severly fractured by extreme pyroclastic volcanic activity and gas effusions in the Late Permian and has remained so up to the present day thus forming a major migration conduit system for the presently erupting methane vents in the Siberian permafrost. During periods of lower atmospheric carbon dioxide and lower temperatures the permafrost methane vents became sealed by the formation of methane hydrate (clathrate) plugs forming pingos (Figures 5, 6 and 7; Hovland et al. 2006; Paull et al., 2007; Carana, 2011, Liesowska, 2015). The surface methane clathrate plugs have now been destabilized by human pollution induced global warming and the methane is being released into the atmosphere at the permafrost methane explosion vents. Extreme methane concentrations, up to 1000 times above the mean atmospheric level has been found at the base of the methane eruption vents by Russian scientists (Holthaus, 2015) confirming that they are still linked to deeper methane sources which may be geopressujred. Before the Yamal B1 methane eruption vent developed, hillocks (pingoes) rose in the permafrost heralding the coming massive methane gas eruption (Figure 7; Liesowska, 2015). Other pingoes adjacent to the Yamal B1 methane eruption vent could also collapse at any moment emitting a large cloud of methane gas (Liesowska, 2015).
In the Last Ice age, the methane seal system (methane hydrate pingos) was maintained by the low temperatures and trapped the mantle methane below the ground. Now however human pollution which caused a massive carbon dioxide atmospheric buildup exceeding 400 ppm has started to break the seals on the mantle methane fractures in 2014 and 2015 allowing them to spew increasingly large quantities of deep mantle methane directly into the Arctic atmosphere. In the Late Permian, the massive volume of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere during these cataclysmic eruptions produced extreme global warming in the air and oceans which also dissasocciated the Paleo-Arctic permafrost and subsea methane hydrates and the methane hydrate seals above the Enrico Pv Anomaly generating a massive seafloor and mantle methane pulse into the atmosphere that caused the Major Late Permian Extinction Event (Figures 2 to 4) (Wignall. 2009).

A sequence of extreme pyroclastic basaltic eruptions occur along the Gakkel Ridge (85oE volcanoes) which has an ultra - slow rate of plate spreading of 15 to 20 mm a year (Sohn et al. 2007). These volcanoes formed from the explosive eruption of gas - rich basaltic magmatic foams as shown by recovered green - glass fragments and pillow lavas. Long intervals between eruptions during slow spreading produced a huge gas and volatile buildup at high storage pressures deep down in the crust (Sohn et al 2007). A volatile and carbon dioxide content of some 13.5% to 14% (Wt./Wt. - volume fraction 75%) is necessary at 5 km depth in the Arctic Ocean to fragment the erupting magma (Sohn et al. 2007). These extreme pyroclastic basaltic volcanic eruptions are probably a modern day equivalent of the types of eruptions that occured in the region of methane eruption vents along the "Taimyr Volcanic Arc" in the Late Permian and totally fractured the mantle and crust producing deep reaching conduits that allowed mantle methane below 225 km access to the surface (Figure 4). The more fluid Gakkel Ridge pillow lava basalts mirror the very fluid Siberian "Trapp" flows that covered a large part of Siberia in the Late Permian (Figure 2 and 3).


Our present extreme fossil fuel driven, carbon dioxide global warming is predicted to produce exactly the same mantle methane release from the permafrost methane eruption vents along the Late Permian "TaimyrVolcanic Arc", subsea Arctic methane hydrates and the Enrico Pv Anomaly "Extreme Methane Emission Zone" by the 2050's, leading to total deglaciation and the extinction of all life on Earth.

Mankind has, in his infinite stupidity, with his extreme hydrocarbon addiction and fossil fuel induced global warming, opened a giant, long standing (Permian to Recent), geopressured, mantle methane pressure-release safety valve for methane gas generated between 100 km and 300 km depth and at temperatures of above 1200°C in the asthenosphere (Figures 1 to 6). This is now a region of massive methane emissions (Carana, 2011-2015).

There seems to be no fast and easy way to reseal this system. To sufficiently cool the Atmosphere and Arctic Ocean cannot be achieved in the short time frame we have left to complete the job. In some cases, it may be possible to reseal conduits with concrete or other material, or to capture methane for storage in hydrates at safer locations, but the sheer number of vulnerable locations and the size of the work involved is daunting.

Figure 9. Climate Action Plan, from Climate Plan
Other ways to deal with the methane are to break it down in the water and in the atmosphere, as also depicted in Figure 9 (enhanced decomposition). Efforts to break down methane in the atmosphere using radio-laser systems have been described by Light and Carana (Figure 8, Alamo and Lucy Projects, Light and Carana, 2012, 2013, Ehret 2012; Sternowski 2012; Iopscience, 2013, Arctic-news, 2012). Scientists at Georgia Tech. University have found in the ocean that at very low temperatures two symbiotic methane eating organisms group together, consume methane in the presence of tungsten and excrete carbon dioxide which then reacts with minerals in the water to form carbonate mounds (Glass et al. 2013). This means that the United States must fund a major project at Georgia Tech. to quickly develop the means to grow these methane consuming bacteria in massive quantities with their tungsten enzyme and find the means to deliver them to the Polar oceans as soon as possible. More generally, the situation calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.


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Figure References

Figure 7. Enhanced Lucy Transmission System. Image from Light and Carana 2012. Lidar methane detecting laser from Ehret, 2012. Methane heating laser from Sternowski, 2012. Hydroxyl formation from, 2013.

North Siberian Arctic Permafrost Methane Eruption Vents | by Malcolm Light, Harold Hensel and Sam Carana

Posted by Sam Carana on Friday, April 10, 2015


  1. Aye Carumba!!! 30 Dragon Burps including 7 large ones!!!
    That is really non-ambiguous nor anecdotal.
    Thank you Sam for this very important post.
    I'm currently, and slowly, translating "IPCC too Conservative"
    I'm quite sure this will be the next one, this is really important Arctic News
    Keep up the great work!

  2. Wow, and to think it was only in the 60s and early 70s that plate tectonics was largely accepted as fact.
    Now we have really what amounts to the expertise to see Enrico Pressure/Velocity horizon and geologic consequence of our actions in commerce triggering the reinvigoration of Permian Extinction mechanism.. And we also have a legal obligation to enter an effort to evolve a framework Remedy ie use writ of law known as Act of God to correct an accounting error at the basis of Continuation of life.

  3. After watching some vids over the weekend, I reposted this post on G+ with a new title
    Nature Does not Care if There is a Controversy About Arctic Methane Amongst Scientists.
    This is the link to my share: