, Volume 23, Issue 3-4, pp 155-161
Date: 03 Oct 2003

Mud volcanoes—a significant source of atmospheric methane

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Abstract

Mud volcanoes are recognized as a significant geological source of atmospheric carbon, particularly as methane gas. This paper considers the total number of mud volcanoes, types and frequency of their activity, quantities of emissions during quiescence and eruption, and composition of venting gases. Mud volcanoes approximate 1,950 prominent individuals worldwide and about 60 to 65 erupt every year. They sporadically or continuously emit to the atmosphere considerable volumes of gas, mainly methane, in average volumes of 3.3 to 3.6×106 m3 per year during quiescent periods, and about 12×106 m3 to more than 350×106 m3 per single eruption. The total annual amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere through mud volcanoes is estimated to be about 5 Tg, containing almost equal quantities of fossil and modern carbon.