National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

What's New

June 14, 2018

June 12 - 29: PMEL scientists with the Earth-Ocean Interactions (EOI) Program will join the E/V Nautilus to continue to survey methane sites from Northern California to Washington using multibeam sonar and a remotely operated vehicle in order to fully document and characterize this region. Up until a few years ago, only 100 methane “seep sites” had been identified primarily by fisherman using their fish-finders observing the acoustic reflections of the gas bubbles.  Beginning in 2016, EOI scientists began a more systematic mapping of the seeps using new sonar technology on the E/V Nautilus, owned and operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust.  About 25 percent of the potential methane seep water column area has now been mapped and analyzed.

During the day, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will collect samples of gas, methane hydrate, seep water, fauna and rocks at these sites.  Analyzing these samples in conjunction with a more complete inventory of sites will help scientists understand the origin of the seeping methane and its impact on the ocean environment. At night, the Nautilus will continue to survey additional methane sites.

The Cascadia margin is of particular interest because the methane is stored within a major subduction zone which can potentially have an environmental impact on the upper water column. A baseline characterization of methane seeps along the Cascadia margin is critical to complete to assess methane input into the water column, and is timely because the continued rise in ocean temperatures could potentially impact the rate of release of methane from the hydrate layers into the ocean and possibly the atmosphere.

During the expedition, ROV dive video will be available live at: https://nautiluslive.org/

More information about the methane research and expedition can be found at: https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/eoi/pmel-theme/methane-seeps

You can read a recent highlight from Oregon State University on the expedition here: http://today.oregonstate.edu/news/osu-noaa-researchers-document-widespread-methane-seeps-oregon-coast

PMEL in the News

June 18, 2018

Thirty years ago this week, NASA climate expert James Hansen gave groundbreaking testimony before Congress. He told them that human-caused global warming was already happening. Time has proved him right, according to a new analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data...

June 13, 2018

The Copper River Flats is seeing the second lowest salmon commercial harvest in the past 50 years, resulting in commercial fishermen being kept from catching the prized fish for nearly two weeks. As of June 10, the Copper River weir shows that 154,866 reds have passed the counter since May 18....

June 07, 2018

One look outside Thursday would have most people thinking otherwise. Gray, windy and 64 degrees. Snow in the mountains over the weekend.  The idea that Seattle is anything like Saint-Tropez in the summer seems laughable. But given current climate trends, a more Mediterranean-climate is not too...