methane on the ocean floor and what it means to our planet will
be the topic of a seminar at two University of Southern Mississippi
locations March 6 and 7.
presented through an international research program's distinguished
lecturer series, will feature Dr. Gerald R. Dickens speaking on
"Extreme Climates and Frozen Methane: The Global Carbon Cycle
with Gas Hydrate."
scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, in the Thames Polymer
Science Research Center auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus; and
at 2 p.m. Friday, March 7, in the Caylor Building auditorium at
the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs. A reception
will follow each presentation.
the climate warmed in the past," said Dr. Charlotte Brunner,
Southern Miss professor of marine science. She said the current
hypothesis about prehistoric global warming is that a giant methane
event an enormous release into the atmosphere occurred.
"There is concern that the same thing could happen again,"
she said. "Dr. Dickens is looking at the ancient record to
learn if it happened and how it happened."
and Dickens, a geochemist from Rice University, have worked on cruises
of the Ocean Drilling Program, an international partnership of scientists
and research institutions organized to study the evolution and structure
of the Earth.
paleoceanographer, first encountered methane hydrates on an ODP
research cruise in the Sea of Japan. Gas hydrates are crystalline
solids made up of gas, usually methane molecules, surrounded by
a cage of water molecules.
it up in a core; someone pulled out a lighter and set it afire.
This ice ignited and burned. It was the strangest thing," Brunner
Dr. Jay Grimes, Southern Miss provost for the Hattiesburg campus,
worked together to bring the drilling program's distinguished lecturer
to the university. Funded primarily by the U.S. National Science
Foundation and its international partners, the deep sea drilling
project uses a special ship that punches deep into the earth's crust
and is fully equipped with laboratories to study the cores and other
give students, faculty and guests an inside look at the drilling
program's progress in unlocking the mysteries of methane hydrates.
of frozen methane gas lying on the floor of the oceans of the world,
including the Gulf of Mexico, is intriguing and offers up a treasure
trove of discovery and hypothesis-driven research for a variety
of scientists," Grimes said. He noted that vast amounts of
frozen methane are thought to exist on the deep ocean floor and
are a potential energy source, even though methane is a greenhouse
hydrate) has an effect on the carbon cycle, and it provides nourishment
to bizarre marine bacteria and invertebrates," Grimes said.
"This is better than a Jules Verne novel."