Scientists Discover Gas Springs in Haifa Bay Seabed
A new geophysical study in Israel has uncovered a system of active gas springs in the Haifa Bay seabed. Continental Shelf Research, describes the entire system, from its sources under the sea floor through the natural springs emerging from the seabed. "This is a natural laboratory for researching gas emissions from the sea floor -- natural springs and less natural ones. We are only beginning to understand their contribution to climate and ecological change," said Dr. Uri Schattner of the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa, who led the research. The initial discovery came when examining a map of the seafloor off of Israel’s northern coast through a joint effort between the Israel Oceanographic, the university of Haifa, and the Limnological Research Institute. The effort revealed nearly 700 spots in the seabed that looked like possible gas springs. Seismic data identified pockets of gas beneath the seabed. Four expeditions were carried out to further the study. "Geophysical information enables us to research beneath the sea floor and map out the entire system, from the gas sources to their penetration of the sea waters," said Dr. Schattner. A gas deposit of 72 square kilometers was found on the continental shelf, at depths of between 37 meters to 112 meters. While many of the gases remain in the reserve, some still manage to escape into the sea. "We don't know yet what kind of gas we're talking about, but its role in undermining the stability of the seabed is clear," said Dr. Michael Lazar, a member of the research team. "This means that any discussion of marine infrastructure development must seriously relate to this shallow gas stratum." Researchers plan to conduct another expedition with a team of biologists and geologists. "Every research trip challenges and fascinates us anew," said Dr. Schattner. "This time we'll be going out with a few vessels, each of which is dedicated to different types of surveying and sampling."