Scientists find widespread methane leaks in Atlantic

Scientists have found hundreds of methane leak spots on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean near the East Coast of the United States, according to a new study.

The methane seeps were found in at least 570 places where the continental shelf meets the deeper ocean floor, from near Massachusetts down to North Carolina, researchers said in a study published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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Methane is a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to climate change at a rate of about 25 times more than carbon dioxide per volume.

The volume of the leaks is very small compared to methane seeps from all sources around the world, researchers said. It has likely been leaking for at least 1,000 years, though most of the methane dissolves in the ocean before reaching the atmosphere.

Methane frequently leaks in more tectonically active ocean floor areas, such as the Pacific Ocean off the West Coast. The East Coast seeps came as a surprise to researchers, as it is not tectonically active nor a known source of oil and gas.