International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 92, Issue 5, pp 806–816 | Cite as

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

  • Achim J. Kopf
Original Paper


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).


Mud volcanism Climate change Emission Methane 



I am grateful to Jan Behrmann for first having pointed out mud volcanism to me, and to Ernst Flueh for having provided the serene working environment for this study. The paper benefited from the suggestions by Simona Cavagna and an anonymous referee. Special thanks go to Christian Dullo for the superb editorial handling which helped to publish this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SCRIPPS Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California, San Diego (UCSD)La JollaUSA

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