, Volume 92, Issue 5, pp 806-816
Date: 25 Jul 2003

Global methane emission through mud volcanoes and its past and present impact on the Earth's climate

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Mud volcanism is an abundant, global phenomenon whereby fluid-rich, low-density sediments extrude both on land and offshore. Methane, which generally exceeds 90 vol% of the gas phase, is emitted at high rates during and after emplacement of the mud domes and is known for its high global warming potential (GWP). This comprehensive estimate of the annual contribution of mud volcano degassing assesses the significance of mud volcanism for the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A first-order estimate for the earlier, pre-anthropogenic volume of methane released through mud volcanoes further supports their profound effect on the Earth's climate since at least the Paleozoic (570 Ma).