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Marsh gas (methane)

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Science book series (EESS)

Marsh gas, which is also called methane, is produced by the anaerobic bacterial decomposition of vegetable matter and the rumen of herbivorous animals under water. For a very long time it was considered as having supernatural properties due to its ability to self-ignite, which occurred in marshes and was visible, especially at night. From the viewpoint of chemistry it is the simplest member of the aliphatic or paraffin series of hydrocarbons which is shown by the type of formula CnH2n+2. Its chemical formula is CH4. It can be found abundantly in nature as the chief component of natural gas. The methane content of marsh gas varies between 50 and 80 per cent, but mostly it is around 60 per cent.

Marsh gas has no color or odor. It is lighter than air and has a specific gravity of 0.554. It is only slightly soluble in water but is more soluble in ethyl alcohol and ethyl ether. It is generally very stable. It burns readily in air and produces carbon dioxide and water vapor. Its flame is...

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Bibliography

  • Doorn, M. R.J., and Barlaz, M. A., 1995. Estimate of Global Methane Emissions from Landfills and Open Dumps. Research Triaangle Park, NC: US Environmental Protection Agency, Air and Energy Engineering Research Laboratory pp.

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  • Lang, P. M. et al, 1994. Atmospheric Methane Data for 1989–1992 from the NOAA/CMDL Global Cooperative Air Sampling Network. Boulder,Colo.: NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories, Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, 49 pp.

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  • Lee, S., 1997. Methane and its Derivatives. New York: Marcel Dekker, 415 pp.

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© 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Kocasoy, G. (1999). Marsh gas (methane). In: Environmental Geology. Encyclopedia of Earth Science. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-4494-1_217

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-4494-1_217

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-0-412-74050-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4020-4494-6

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive

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