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25 April 2019

We learnt last week that Titan's lakes are full of methane rather than water. We also have lots of methane on Earth. Landfill sites, for example, emit lots of methane (which you can see at night as a flame of light). Mount Chimaera in Turkey is an eternal lamp – dozens of campfire sized flames burst out of the mountains rocky sea facing slopes. These are fueled by methane – the same stuff that provides natural gas as a fossil fuel (see http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2019/04/22/scientists-find-unu…   …

   …Methane is composed of a single carbon atom surrounded by four hydrogen atoms and forms from the decay of plants, animals and life (which is why it forms in landfill sites). However, the Earth, it seems, creates its own methane, as well. When waters reacts with the mineral olivine it releases hydrogen gas. The hydrogen, in turn, reacts with a carbon source to form methane. It is abiotic – because it happens without any kind of life forms present. Or that is what was thought. It seems science is finding more and more abiotic methane and they have also found microbes help make it. Micro-organisms deep in the Earth consume hydrogen and produce methane.

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