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Imagine That! -- "Sediments No Good"


Imagine That!
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Imagine That! -- "Sediments No Good"

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

Salt could make your blood pressure hit the roof. But it's causing problems in other bodies too--bodies of...water!

Imagine That!

In underwater sediments at the bottom of the oceans is a compound called methane hydrate. And it's something scientists love to study for its good guy-bad guy rep. Good, in that it's a highly concentrated and very viable energy resource. Bad, because methane is a major contributor to global climate change.

For both these reasons, scientists have been scavenging the ocean floors to find out just how much of this methane hydrate ice, composed of gas and water, is out there, and if there's really enough to take advantage of its beneficial possibilities.

Carolyn Ruppel, a geophysicist at Georgia Tech, went to the northern Gulf of Mexico to check it out. The marine sediments there are peppered with salt domes and it's part of a very hot basin.

Ruppel: "The combination of heat and salt is really not good for maintaining the stability of gas hydrate."

Ruppel says these results will make scientists reconsider their predictions for the amount of methane hydrate they think is available, and whether or not the amount justifies how much energy we'll have to use to turn hydrate into power. Some spicy data from those warm Mexican waters. I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov.

 
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